There seems no better paradigm for the waiting time of Advent than pregnancy.
There is no rushing it. It is a time of hope and expectation, of growth and transformation, of excitement and awe. Hope necessarily blended with a certain trepidation and uncertainty as to what the future may bring.
Advent takes its tone and theme from the oracles of the the Messiah in the Old Testament – from the Patriarchs and the Prophets who looked forward to better times ahead – but also, and especially in this the year of Luke’s Gospel, from the stories of Mary and Elizabeth.
For Elizabeth, hope comes after a time of hopelessness – the waiting of pregnancy comes after a long, barren period of waiting in vain.
For Mary, the miracle of life is a surprise. Hope is now incarnate within her. Her anxious waiting is to behold the child growing within her, to discover what it means to be the Theotokos, to give birth to God and gaze upon the divine.
Both become paradigms of waiting for the gift of Christ: they teach us to look for life when all is barren, to find hope in the midst of hopelessness, above all, they encourage us to expect the unexpected and to look forward to the certain uncertainties of the future with faith.