Chelsea Van Der Poel explores how regardless the season, God's goodness creates a hopeful new day.
On the twenty-first day of Advent, 2021, Claire Harvey captures our experience of waiting for the new heavens and new earth.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
2 Peter 3:8-13 NRSV
“There is one thing which gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something around the corner.” ― G.K. Chesterton
These past two years have taught many of us more than we ever wanted to know about waiting. Waiting for good news. Waiting for case numbers to come down. Waiting for another lockdown to end. Waiting for kids to return to school. Waiting for another milestone on the roadmap to be achieved.
Waiting to see those we love, whose company we crave.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
All of this pandemic-associated uncertainty has surely messed with our heads and hearts. Plans have been cancelled, delayed, often time and time again. We’ve learnt to hold our hopes lightly, and to plan tentatively. And we have learned to get used to disappointment.
How we crave certainty! How we long for the clarity of a clear plan, for a confident sense of making sure progress toward that which we hope for. Many of us experience an annual cycle of seasonal anticipation, deeply craving the onset of spring during the depths of winter. Expectant parents know all about waiting, as do those watching loved ones suffer through months, or even years, of ill-health. We know, through our experience, how vital it is to hold on to hope.
While we hear more and more about the myriad benefits of mindfulness, of learning to live in the moment and to exercise gratefulness as a spiritual practice, the truth is that we live in difficult in-between times where often we must also simply learn to wait. Actively, yes: loving, caring, serving, sharing, giving. But simultaneously waiting.
If we open our eyes we can witness kindness, goodness, beauty, and truth . . . set alongside cruelty, evil, ugliness and lies: one dose of the evening news provides enough of a reminder that things are not as they ought to be! To acknowledge and name this often painful reality can be cathartic, especially for those feeling pressured to conform to a narrative of toxic positivity. When we quietly sit with the suffering of our world, refusing to push it aside through denial and distractions, and allowing heart-felt lament to rise, we can learn to long for - and even crave - the promised day when there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21).
Just as we can acknowledge our fleeting lives as a precious and sacred gift, and know joy amidst the pain, and find beauty in the ashes, we can also join with sisters and brothers and be real about the fact that we must also wait.
Until Jesus comes, and makes all things new.
Come, Lord Jesus: bring on the new heavens and the new earth!
Claire Harvey works as a Careers Advisor at Bayside Christian College, and also serves on Frankston City Council on Bunurong Country. Claire is involved with The Village Church community in Mount Eliza and is a co-developer of The Digs Cohousing Community.
Lord, grant us patience in these troubled times. Help us to cling to you, and the promises you have made to humankind, in the midst of our uncertainty and pain. Captivate our imaginations with a fuller revelation of the truth and beauty of your coming Kingdom, that we could be faithful bearers of genuinely good news in a world full of false hopes and crushed dreams. Draw us deeper into your presence, that we might know fullness of joy as we wait expectantly for the restoration of all things.
Photograph: Shakina Phelix, Sunset, Glasshouse Mountains, Jinibara and Gubbi Gubbi Country, Queensland
Visual Description: The sun is setting over a forest of trees.