Advent 2012, “waiting for the Prince of Peace”

What will you wait for this year?

Advent is a time of waiting for “the coming of the Prince of Peace, the one who will reign with justice over this world.” In the liturgical calendar, Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent is December 2.

As you prepare for the season of Advent, I would commend two questions to your musings and your prayer and your meditation: What is it that you are most waiting for? And, how are you going to wait this year?

I’m struck this particular season by the waiting of several women in Christian history. Mary obviously, waiting for the birth of the Promised One in her part of the world, a child born for the whole world.

Also consider Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptizer, who comes before Jesus. Elizabeth has been promised a child in her old age, these are both very unexpected births, they are waiting.

And I’m struck particularly this year by Elizabeth of Hungary, a saint of the Church who lived in the 13th century, who was betrothed as a child herself, married at 14, a mother of three by the time her husband died when she was 20. She spent her life giving it away, giving it away both physically through her means and through her presence and her healing. She was an icon of generosity.

What is it you wait for this year? Is it an opportunity to meet the ‘surprising gift’ around you? Is it an opportunity to reflect on what is most needed in your heart and in the world around you? How are you going to wait for that gift? Are you going to wait actively? Engaged? Honing your desire? Stoking the passion within you for that dream? Are you going to wait for a dream that will bless the whole world?

That’s what Christians wait for in the season of Advent—the coming of the Prince of Peace, the one who will reign with justice over this world. I believe that’s what the world most needs, this year and every year.

May your season of waiting be fruitful and blessed. May it be filled with surprise and a willingness to engage that surprise.

The Presiding Bishop’s Advent 2012 message, videotaped in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd on the grounds of General Theological Seminary in New York City, is available at: www.episcopalchurch. org/page/presiding-bishop.