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Several years ago I created a retreat day called “While We Wait” for parish directors of religious education. I wanted to focus participants on attitudes and activities that moved them forward in their preparation for Christmas. I was happy with the process of the day and repeated it in a similar form in different situations in ensuing years. I was especially partial to the alliterative title of the retreat. (Old teachers of language never die; they just morph into something else!) Aside from the double alliteration, I was partial to the title because it suggested a process, a way to get to Christmas that was deep and meaningful.

Yesterday I received a text from the CSJ Leadership Team, part of their monthly missive, For the Life of the World that keeps us focused on our mission. I found the message from Sister Sally Harper, one of our five Congregational Leadership Team members, very helpful and wanted to share the question about waiting that Sally raised and expanded upon in several ways. Instead of my reflection on how we wait, Sally asked the basic and underlying question that seems so fundamental but maybe sometimes is just taken for granted. She wanted to know: What are we waiting for?

Of course we know that we are waiting for the celebration, as Sally says, of God “up close and personal” in the person of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, the “Word Made Flesh” but that, as she notes, happened more than 2,000 years ago, so she repeats her question: What are we waiting for? It’s a question that each of us can and perhaps should answer for ourselves so I would suggest that before you read on, you take some time to answer the question in your own way…When you’re ready, Sally says:

Jesus calls us to incarnate God’s love in our daily lives just like he did: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Sally leaves the work of how to do that to each of us.)

Thanks to Sally for this reminder of how simple, yet not always easy, it is to “wait” for the coming of Jesus.