A Jagged Contention: Waiting and Hoping

Then our waiting and hoping is not like a piece of wishful thinking, or a fantasy, but life itself. Then we live only because we wait for God. Then there are none of those uncertainties or reservations such as beset those who wait foolish for foolish things. Then we step forward confidently. Much more, we see ourselves torn out of our former quiet waiting, in which we thought only of ourselves, and are changed within by an overpowering, wonderful happening, which quite without any action on our part simply happens, approaches in God’s time, in God’s future, in his coming to earth. That would be our future of living reality. Thus we live today under the shadow of his coming, not some dreaded disaster or some fate, but the coming of the God of justice, of love, of peace. Not finding our own way to God into the future, but receiving the future from God. We know that we cannot go to God, God comes to us, enfolding us in his unbelievable grace, otherwise our life is lost, and our waiting is in vain. We can only wait, watchfully wait; that means passionately waiting, totally deaf to those who would sow doubts in our mind, blind to every power that stands between us and that future which God wills for us. One thing is needful: the conviction that we will see God, we shall hear God, we shall receive God, we shall know God, we shall serve God.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons, ed. Edwin Robertson. Zondervan, Grand Rapids. Pg. 53


Bonhoeffer describes the Christian’s life as one defined by waiting and hoping between the time of Christ’s first and second coming. The virtue of waiting has certainly been lost in our culture of immediate gratification. What sorts of things can the church do, especially during the season of Advent, to help us learn how to wait and hope faithfully?