“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. 2 My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? 3 When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. 4 You know the way to the place I’m going.”
5 Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The Church calendar invites us to wait in both Advent and Lent, the seasons leading up to Christmas and Easter respectively. In Advent we wait for the birth of Jesus, and in Lent, we wait for his death and resurrection. We all know that these seasons end with festive joy, but the waiting is still difficult.
Many Christians have fasted in the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas celebration, just as many Christians today fast during Lent. But fasting isn’t the only kind of waiting. In Advent, for example, we wait by growing our anticipation through the lighting of candles or counting the days until Christmas. We wait by preparing meals, cookies, decorations, and gifts for each other. We wait by anticipating the celebration with worship and often with family on the night before, or by observing Holy Week.
We are in a season of waiting right now, too. There is a sense in which we are always waiting. Ultimately, we wait for death, for in death, we join Jesus in the many rooms of the Father’s house. But more presently, we are waiting for vaccines to be developed and distributed. We are waiting for racial justice. We are waiting to see fires extinguished and some of us, to breathe fresh air once again. We are waiting to hug and kiss our friends once again, to return to school and work and in-person corporate worship. And so much more!
In this text, Jesus invites his disciples to wait. Thomas in particular wants clearer directions about how this season of waiting will end, but instead, Jesus tells them who he is: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Sometimes waiting is difficult because we want to understand our situation better. But better understanding– how and where the virus is spreading, the origins of police brutality, the consequences of wildfires– often doesn’t satisfy us. Rather, the key to waiting well is knowing who Jesus is: the One who prepares the way for us. The One who has returned to the Father. The One whose return is the ultimate object of all our waiting and hope.
May we join together in waiting for the end of COVID-19 and all injustice. Let us light candles and make cookies, let us decorate and anticipate. And above all, let us worship the One who was, and is, and is to come.
By Kevin Vollrath
For Pondering & Prayer
What are you waiting for today? This week? This month? How might you invite Jesus to wait with you in this season?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we eagerly await your return. Soothe us in our waiting for the end of COVID-19, the end of police brutality and racial injustice, and the end of ecological destruction. We know that you, too, look forward to the end of these plights. May your Kingdom come. Amen.