And all of creation groans in this moment, and we, too, look about us and groan, because the waiting is sometimes more like pain than eager anticipation. And timing does not feel God-ordained and the sheep are going astray, the charts are unclear and Gabriel’s visit a confusing memory. We are easily distracted in the dark. The cold loneliness of three in the morning fills our stomachs with the lead of doubt while the rest of the world sleeps on. We are a waiting people and the wait is not an easy one.
“How long, oh Lord?” we all ask. “How long before we will be done with this bad taste in our mouths, with sorrow, with disappointment, with sin, with the bleak journey of one foot in front of the other? When, Oh Lord, will you save us from all the waiting?” But the clock ticks on and heaven, it seems, is unmoved.
But in the waiting, God sits, too. Containing and constraining himself within time and nature and natural courses of the heart. And God, it seems would wait for us in holy patience while leaders take thrones, stars move in their courses, shepherds buy sheep and an unborn baby grows a spine and fingers and eyelashes.
There was a time, just over two thousand years ago, a perfect moment when the stars aligned in reconciliation and a girl gave birth in a barn. The black night tore open and the very joy of heaven spilled over the upturned faces of sheep and shepherds alike and led them all toward the warm beating body of God in swaddling clothes. And the waiting gave birth to gift.