Watching and Waiting
written by Rev Gary Heard

In a person with normal vision, there exists a blind spot where the image hits the point in the eye where the optic nerve connects at the rear. As there is no retina at that point, the eye records a blank. It occurs at about 30 degrees to the side when we are looking straight ahead. While this physical phenomenon limits our ability to see, it is not the greatest hindrance.

As a legal studies teacher, I used to introduce one topic by setting up “a crime” in the classroom, whereby some strangers would come in and “kidnap” a student. When all the hullabaloo died down, I would question the students in an effort to gain an accurate description of the assailant. It was rare to obtain unanimity on any particular feature, whether it be colour or description of clothing. Though all had “observed” and participated in the same events, everyone saw different things, and few were able to accurately describe what happened. For people with fully-functional vision, we do not often see well.

An Advent theme of “waiting and watching” invites us to a level of awareness which allows us to see more deeply into the heart and work of God. To truly know a place, or a person, takes a great deal of time invested in observation. One cannot drink in all that is to be seen either at a single sitting, or when occupied with other things. We do not see well simply because we do not slow ourselves down enough.

At this time of year, we face added competition – someone seems to hit the accelerator pedal on the pace of life. In this sense, the Advent call is counter-cultural, and arguably timely. Advent serves as a reminder that God comes to us, and we need to be waiting and watchful to discern his presence. In the hectic pace of life in December, we have a choice – one which is ours every day of the year – to be caught up in the pace of wider society, or to take intentional time to be still and seek to discern God’s presence, and God’s coming… afresh.

The greatest gift of the Christmas Season is the gift of God’s presence. Advent reminds us to wait and watch with the intention that we do not miss his coming.

December 4, 2005
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