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  • Writer's pictureMargaret Tinsley

The Meaning is in the Waiting

When we were newly married, having saved up enough, we bought our first washing machine. Now, over fifty years later, how ridiculous that idea of waiting until we had the money in our bank account sounds! After all, if we need such a household essential, we simply wave a bit of plastic, that item becomes ours and we pay later that month, or whenever we can. No need to wait!

It is often said that we live in an age of instant gratification. What we want, we obtain immediately. Even seasonal events happen early: didn’t the Christmas decorations appear as soon as the Hallowe’en ones went away?

All this conflicts with the idea of Advent: a time of waiting, of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child into our lives. Our readings over this season tell us to ‘Be on guard’, Prepare the way of the Lord’, and at the Advent Carol Service we heard ‘We wait for thy loving kindness, O God’.

That washing machine was so much more welcome after months of hand washing. True Christmas – not just the festivities - is so much more meaningful after a time of preparation, be that in the form of quiet, of reading, of helping others, even of abstinence: a time of waiting. As R S Thomas wrote:

‘The meaning is in the waiting.’

O Lord our God, make us watchful and keep us faithful as we await the coming of your Son our Lord; that when he shall appear he might find us active in his service and joyful in his praise. Amen

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