Today is the first Sunday of Advent, a period of waiting for the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus. We recognize Advent in a few ways. (1) We anticipate the Christmas holiday, of course (think “Advent calendar.”) (2) We acknowledge that we are currently in a period of waiting for Jesus’ return and the final consummation of God’s creation. (3) We remember the time before Jesus’ birth, sometimes referred to as “the silence of the prophets,” during which people waited for centuries to hear a word from God.
Of course, even before this relative silence, people would cry out to God in times of distress. One in particular, the prophet Habakkuk, articulates the kind of prayer one might even hear today as he asks God to explain why the world around him is so full of wickedness. God, it seems to Habakkuk, is silent. Ironically, God has plenty to say in this 3-chapter book, and reveals the plan for God’s people to be conquered by the terrifying Babylonians.
Later, the voice of God would fall silent for generations. This silence, perhaps, cultivated in people a longing, an anticipation, for God to act. To save. To anoint a particular king who would usher in a new and permanent era for God’s people and the world. This king was known in Hebrew as the moshiach or Messiah.
- Do you have an experience of trying to hear from God, but “hearing” nothing? What was it like? Did it ever change?
- Habakkuk actually has two complaints: one about his own people and one about the invading Babylonians. Which do you find more concerning today, the problems within your community, or problems that threaten from outside your community?
- Think of something you had to wait for. There was nothing you could do to speed up the process, and maybe you didn’t even know when the waiting would end. Is there anything you learned? Did the waiting shape you in any way?
- If you’re currently in a period of waiting, especially for God to do something, what are some ways you can learn or mature because of the waiting?