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Hallo again to all.

This letter comes to you not from our home, office, pub or café, but rather from the waiting room of a Critical/Intensive Care Unit 500mi (800km) from home. They've tried to make the room inviting, we think, with warm colours and patterns, yet the fluorescent lighting, murmur of "morning shows" on the lone wall-mounted television, plastic-covered chairs, generic mass-produced art of lighthouses and sea sides, and coffee vending machine all belie that attempt. Distant beeps from hospital monitoring devices interrupt our thoughts with a steady cadence, regular but ominous and disconcerting. Several people have come and gone since we've been here, some in groups or couples, others alone. Some sombre or desperate, others chatty or even laughing. This unit only allows two visitors with any one patient at any time, so there is much switching off. What is true for all visitors is a constant anxiety—a waiting.

We find irony in our spending the morning of Advent II anxiously waiting—waiting not only for life—the happy birth of Our Lord in two weeks, but also the possibility of death. We wait in uncertainty as our dear relative lies in a limbo between healing and not. We fear leaving the hospital lest Something Happens but know we could wait for a long time.  

Come Lord Jesus! Come and free us from our fears and unknowns and anxieties.

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.*

Advent is not just a time of anticipation of Christ's birth. We anticipate all of the ways in which He comes to us. Born in Bethlehem in the manger, present in our hearts every day, and arriving in glory when it is time to come again. There is a mysterious multiplicity of feelings in our observance and celebration of Advent: we note simultaneously the arrival, presence, and return of our saviour. This mixture of meanings creates a sombre tone that seems out of place if you only think of Advent as pre-Christmas preparation.

Yes, our vigil here in the waiting room is a mirror of our vigil for Advent. The two are not so much analogues but complement one another. Anxiety about the health of our beloved is tempered by the sense of presence—past, present, and future—of not just our Saviour but hers, too.

So now we wait. Perhaps this time next week we will still be waiting. Perhaps not. Regardless, it  will still be Advent and either way, we'll see you next week.

Our Signatures

All of us at Anglicans Online

4 December 2016

*Wesley, Charles. Come thou long expected Jesus. 1744.

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