Waiting for GodotThis week’s message was a bit related to my own from a couple weeks ago, specifically the idea of Advent being a season of waiting in hope and expectation for “something.” My point (here) was precisely that Advent was the season of waiting and hoping and yearning for something new, but that we are too damn blind, stuck and stupid to really recognize anything new, because “everything” is new every year. Reverend Doctor left us with a challenge to think of something we are waiting for this Advent.

But as my five year old son asked (turning to his mom during the message, in fact!), “What are we supposed to be waiting for?” Indeed! and even better: “waiting is BORING. I don’t wanna wait and especially for something I don’t even know what I’m waiting for.”

Holy smokes, we have a critic in the making. Talk about the faith of a child. My kid’s question and complaint was more prescient than the message itself. Leave it to a 5 year old to liken Advent to Waiting for Godot.

But the kid’s right. That was the impact. In taking up Reverend Doctor’s challenge, you’ve got to ask this question and address the inevitable boredom if you do, in fact, decide to wait around for Godot. Because other than the usual suggestions (at least in liberal protestant sermo-theology) of justice, peace, civil rights in various formats, economic equality, healthcare, and unstated other possibilities (next paycheck, serenity at home, a sex life, overcoming addiction, etc) there wasn’t much of an answer. Is Advent about the possibility of all these? Well, sure. And I’ll be the first to say that these are all vital, essential, biblical, Christian ethical values we should indeed hope for in expectation. But is this any different than the rest of the year? No, and my kid knows it. Advent shouldn’t be just another opportunity to preach the same-old-same-old. This is exactly why we can’t see newness, and power, anymore; liberal churches continue with the program of justice, while conservative churches continue to drill home the narrative of Christ’s coming, his being born-to-die at the expense of really looking at the implications of this for social, prophetic justice. The former leaves out the narrative; the latter leaves out the prophetic (and I’m not referring to the apologetic “prophetic foretellings” of conservative and evangelical churches).

So what am I waiting for here? How about hearing from our pulpits a message that fuses the two? A prophetic message of justice that includes the narratives of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2? We liberal church people can’t assume that our fellow parishioners are biblically literate enough to simply assume the prophetic and Gospel material is common and assumed knowledge part of our social mnemonic makeup. We’re generally not. That much is clear. We evangelicals can’t assume that we have any clue on what is really going on in the prophets when we read them for Advent. Thirty something years of being brought-up-born-again has revealed that to me as well.

This Advent, I’m waiting for something new. My prayer is that when it shows up, it’ll be like porn; I’ll know it when I see it. This Advent, I’m waiting for nothing less than something as radical and ridiculous as the idea of an unwed pregnant teenage mother bearing a baby at once human and divine who would scatter the proud-hearted, forgive sin, give light to us who sit in darkness, and speak through the mouths of the prophets of old. There is a waiting for this newness, but this waiting is a vigil, and it requires alertness, awareness, sensitivity, and vigilance. It’s not a passive waiting. It’s a waiting that involves getting off our ecclesiological asses and being vigilant in the dark. It’s nothing less than being vigilant for the Kingdom, a Kingdom here and now, always and already and to come. That’s what I’m waiting for. Not the usual; waiting for the usual is, as my son says, boring. If he knew the expression, he’d be dead on if he said “boring as hell.”

Exactly. Come, Lord. And FTLOG, bring Godot with you.