NO PHONE WHILE WAITING
The Daily Practice:
WHILE YOU WAIT, DON'T LOOK AT YOUR PHONE.
Advent is a reminder that we and the rest of creation must wait.
We must wait because though the King has come, the King is also still coming, and "all of creation groans" for His arrival.
The incarnation is the promise that all things will be made new, yet we are still waiting for the return of the King. Our best Christmas hymns teach us this:
"O come, O come Emmanuel," we sing. Because "we groan in lowly exile here, until the Son of God appears."
There is "Joy to the World," yes. Because Jesus is born. But we are still waiting for the day when he "makes his blessing flow far as the curse as found."
We celebrate the "Holy Night" that he was born, but await the happy day when "chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother."
Advent is the incredible reminder that the world is going somewhere, but it is the sobering reminder that we are not there yet. As Martin Luther King said, "The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice." This is true! And it is only true because Jesus will come again, and in his center of gravity He will bend the universe towards the "peace on earth" that we and our neighbors have spent our whole lives longing for.
So it is right to wait, and the people of God are not the people of God unless they are a people of waiting.
Waiting is not just a metaphysical tension. It is also a practical reality. Life often asks us to wait, and we avoid that tension by instinctively reaching for our phone.
In our real life, we use our phones to avoid the feeling of waiting.
There is the grocery line and the stoplight. The elevator and the moment before everyone joins the conference call. There are people who are late, and there is traffic that is making us late. There are lines to pick up our kids and Uber rides to go some place or another. These are all moments of waiting.
Usually, instead of bearing the weight of what it means to wait, we fill that time with small (and useless) motions of distraction. We might say we are just bored. But more likely we are anxious and impatient. We are uncomfortable not being in control of time, so we do something that makes us feel in control by punching commands into our phone.
This is an effort to break out of our place in the world.
To spend our lives avoiding waiting is to deny that we are a people who have to wait. We would rather, of course, be God. We would rather never be asked to wait. We would rather have everything happen on our timing.
So it is that we must learn to wait. In order to do so, we must practice waiting.
One way to practice that is, for the season of Advent, refuse to use your phone while you wait.
Instead, look up. Say hi to the person in the elevator. Chit-chat with the human being beside you in the grocery line. Stare out the window of your taxi and look at this beautiful and broken world we live in. Take it in. Try to imagine it longing for its savior, and then reimagine it made new.
Or, just be quiet. Just be still. Just wait. And in that very uncomfortable place, in that place you long to get out of as soon as possible, know that this is where your soul lives. This is where your neighbor's soul lives. This is why the world is the way that it is. Because we need our savior to come again.
Leave your phone untouched then, and if nothing else, whisper Maranatha - "Come Lord Jesus, Come."