“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
As people who tend to run busy calendars and tight schedules, we don’t really like to be kept waiting. If you’ve waited for a repair person to make a service call at your home or if you’ve scheduled a furniture or appliance delivery, you know that you are typically provided with a window of time during which someone will arrive at your home, but you’re not given a precise time. These flexible, imprecise appointments can feel imposing, as we find it inconvenient to block off several hours in our calendars for dedicated waiting time. However, once the repair person or the delivery arrives, everything changes. The waiting time feels less like wasted time; the waiting time has been building toward something.
Maybe this is why we are really good at waiting for Christmas, but not so good at waiting for Christ’s second coming. We eagerly schedule our Advent events, adding family gatherings and elementary school programs and Christmas cookie exchanges. All of Advent builds toward December 25, and during Advent, our ordinary time becomes extraordinary time. It’s not just another family gathering; it’s our family Christmas party, and Christmas makes an ordinary family gathering into an extraordinary event. It’s not just elementary kids singing a few songs; Christmas makes the school program extraordinary.
One of Advent’s most precious lessons is learning how to anticipate the second coming of Christ. In anticipation, our ordinary time becomes extraordinary time. Just as the anticipation of the birth of Christ transforms our experience of time, so too should the anticipation of Christ’s return transform our ordinary, calendar-driven days into extraordinary waiting time. Every moment is not merely a moment, but every moment could be the moment: it’s the potential of each moment that makes time special.
With gratitude to God we practice our Advent waiting, training ourselves to live our ordinary moments in hopeful anticipation of Christ’s promised second coming.
Dr. Kristin VanEyk is an assistant professor of English at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.