“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.” — Psalm 130:5–6a
We don’t like to wait. We don’t like lines. We don’t like lines in traffic, or lines at the grocery store, or the coffee shop, or the doctor’s office. We have far too much going on, and lines seem to just be a waste of time. We wonder if the people ahead of us in line, or the clerks and cashiers, don’t realize just how important we are and how imperative it is that we don’t waste time waiting.
In Bethlehem, at the Church of the Nativity, there is a cave or grotto, where it is believed Jesus was born. Last year we waited in line for two hours and were able to spend about 30 seconds in the cave. It was one of the less impressive moments for me last year. So this year, as a bus captain, I wanted to give the pilgrims in my charge a choice.
You see, there is another part of the same cave — on the other side of a big wall; it’s a part that is not on the official tour. There is no star on the floor marking the traditional place of Jesus’ birth, but it is a part of the same cave, with no lines and no waiting. So we offered our bus the choice: wait in line to see the arbitrary star, or walk right into the cave next door.
I thought for sure people were done with the waiting in line for things. But to my surprise, these pilgrims were okay with the wait. They were okay, even knowing that their time at that place would be short. No time to sing a hymn or read a scripture, just an in an out and on their way.
I was pretty impressed with that choice and with its reflection of the season of Advent. We will spend the next month waiting, waiting to celebrate the birth of our savior. We will prepare our hearts and our minds for that moment — all the while knowing the moment doesn’t last long. Just like the tomb of Jesus is empty, so is the cave of his birth. He didn’t stay there, and neither can we. We can stop for a moment and acknowledge the holy and extraordinary place, but then we must move on like Jesus did. We must come out from the cave and go into the world proclaiming the good news of God’s love for all people.
Standing in line to see the King,