Scripture reading for today:

Malachi 3:5-12, Phil 1:12-18, Luke 1:68-79

And So We Wait

His whole life.

For his whole life, longer even than he could remember, Zechariah had been waiting.

Waiting for his turn to enter the sanctuary, waiting for a son, waiting for a Saviour. Day after day, he obeyed the commandments, serving the Lord faithfully in the Temple. Month after month, he longed to see for the telltale signs that Elizabeth was pregnant. Year after year, he observed Isaiah’s words being played out everywhere around him:

All their activity is filled with sin,
and violence is their trademark.
Their feet run to do evil,
and they rush to commit murder.
They think only about sinning.
Misery and destruction always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace
or what it means to be just and good.
They have mapped out crooked roads,
and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.1

And it never happened. His lot was never chosen, he and Elizabeth grew old alone together, and the Saviour never appeared. Until. . . .

All at once, it happened. Finally, after all those days, months, years of waiting, Zechariah’s turn came at last. His name was called to enter the sanctuary. Gabriel brought the bewildering news that Elizabeth would bear a son who would turn the people’s hearts back to God. And the biggest news of all: The long-awaited Saviour was coming. The Lord’s arm was not too weak to save. The promises made to Abraham, to David, to Isaiah and the prophets, would be fulfilled. God was merciful. He remembered his covenant. Finally, help was on the way.

And Zechariah burst into song. The waiting was almost over.

Our whole lives.

For our whole lives, longer even than we can remember, we have been waiting.

Waiting for the opportunity to serve God to the best of our ability, waiting for our chance to love ones who never come, waiting for a Saviour. Day after day, we obey the commandments, serving the Lord faithfully by offering prayers and telling stories, by planting trees and serving the bread and wine. Month after month, we wonder whether we will leave any lasting footprint. Year after year, we observe Isaiah’s words still being played out everywhere around us, in the system we ourselves have created:

So there is no justice among us,
and we know nothing about living.
We look for light but find only darkness.
We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.
We grope like the blind along a wall,
feeling our way like people without eyes.
Even at brightest noontime,
we stumble as though it were dark.
Among the living,
we are like the dead.
We growl like hungry bears;
we moan like mournful doves.
We look for justice, but it never comes.
We look for rescue, but it is far away from us.2

And sometimes it never happens. Our turn never comes, we grow old, and we can see no sign of the promised Saviour.

And yet. . .

There is a sanctity to the waiting, a holiness to the darkest night. Click To Tweet

There is a sanctity to the waiting, a holiness to the darkest night. The hour when we are ready to give up all hope, that is the hour before the dawn.

Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.3

And so we burst into song.

The waiting is almost over.

O Holy Night/We are Waiting

(by Katie Jamer Jewett, Placide Cappeau – trans. John Sullivan Dwight)

We are waiting for a promise
We are weary of the fight
e are waiting for a Saviour
We are waiting for the Light

Thank you for reading the New Leaf Advent Reader, a collection of reflections from writers across Canada. If you are enjoying the reader, sign up to receive the readings in your inbox each day here: SIGN UP And please share this reflection with your friends and family who might also enjoy it.

photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia


  1. Isaiah 59:6b-8
  2. Isaiah 59:9-11
  3. Luke 1:78-79