I'm waiting for ...
Advent, the season before Christmas on the church calendar, is one in which we are called to wait. But this is uncomfortable, isn't it? Because we hate waiting. This is why Christmas decorations in big box stores start going up right after Halloween and why radio stations start playing Christmas music earlier and earlier every year.
We don't like to wait, but we can't fully experience the joy of Christmas unless we sit and wait in the tension of Advent.
Voices on the radio sing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year ..." but when children are still sold into sex slavery and when bombs are going off in the Middle East and Ireland and many other places around the world and when countless numbers of God's children try to sleep in the bitter cold and when we still fail to see the image of God in those who are different from us, is it really the most wonderful time of the year?
So instead we sing, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel ..." and we wait.
Our waiting is not simply putting up our feet, drinking our Peppermint Mochas, watching Hallmark movies until Christmas comes. We are called instead to wait actively, working in the tension toward the hope we have.
And we also wait together.
Right after the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was pregnant with Jesus, Mary immediately went to see her relative, Elizabeth, who was also pregnant and they waited together (Luke 1:26-45). We are invited to do the same. We are invited to wait together, recognizing that waiting is so much more powerful when it's done in community -- when are able not only to share what we're waiting for, but to also share the burdens, pain and hope of our neighbors.
So RISE wants to know … What are you waiting for?
Throughout the season of Advent, you are invited to participate in the Ellipsis Experiment — a grassroots movement of tension, waiting and hope.
There are a number of ways to participate.
First, you're invited to change your Facebook profile picture to the image of the ellipsis below and for the caption, write: “I’m waiting for … ____________.” Please also include this link (http://riseharrisonburg.com/ellipsis). Our hope is that others will see your Facebook picture changed, get curious and change theirs, too.
You could be waiting for something as general as peace or reconciliation, or as specific as an end to sex trafficking in the Shenandoah Valley. Think about it. What are your deepest longings for yourself? For your community? For the world? Where do your longings intersect with the darkness you see around you? How does "It's the most wonderful time of the year" ring hollow in your life? Let whatever you write be your prayer and let the world know.
Second, join us at worship throughout the season of Advent. Each Sunday morning at exactly 10(ish) at Court Square Theater, we will focus on waiting as friends in the community share stories of what they are waiting for as we light the Advent wreath together.
Third, join us throughout the season of Advent for Midnight Prayer. Each week, we will gather at midnight on Thursday evenings into Friday to wait and pray together. You will be invited (but not required) to share what you're waiting for. This is a powerful opportunity to wait actively and in community.
Finally, you're encouraged to write on the chalk wall. The prompt on the chalk wall will ask the same question: What are you waiting for? And you are invited to respond and, each time you walk by, pray for what has been written.
We hope you’ll join us in participating in the Ellipsis Experiment – whether you’re in Harrisonburg or not. All are welcome and invited to participate.
… we wait together and hope together …