Advent is a Season for which we Americans are poorly suited. This is supposed to be a time of expectant waiting and we don’t like to wait.

Imagine almost anything you want to possess and, with a credit card and an Internet connection, you can have it delivered to your doorstep within two days. Think of almost any food you would like to eat and there is probably a restaurant nearby that can deliver it to your plate in a matter of minutes. Realize that there is some piece of information, either vital or trivial, that you would like to possess, and it can be “googled” in a millisecond. We live in a wonderful world of rapidity and almost instant gratification.

It is not, however, the world that we as followers of God are called to inhabit, at least not when it comes to spiritual matters. We don’t get to decide when God comes to us. God isn’t conjured up like a genie from a lamp. It isn’t as simple as powering up our laptops and hitting the “favorite” button. God comes to us when the time is right, when we are receptive to God’s presence, when we are able to accept the things that only God can give.

That’s why expectant waiting is called a discipline. It requires a focus that we seldom exercise, a removal of distractions that we are reluctant to enforce. There are too many other voices calling for our attention, too many visions — of commodities to possess, pleasures to experience, pastimes in which to engage — for us to “be still and know.”

That is, however, exactly what is called for if we are to be the followers of Jesus Christ that God needs us to be. We don’t have to be in a rush. We don’t have to check items off our spiritual agenda. We don’t have a quota of deeds to perform, testimonies to give, places to be. We simply have to be available and attentive. Let God speak.

During this Advent Season your family of faith has scheduled plenty of activities and programs and services. That’s good. I hope you will join us for all of them. But they are no substitute for time alone, praying and meditating and listening for the voice of God — a voice that only comes when we wait.