It’s always been interesting to me that in Spanish, the verb for “to hope” and “to wait” are the same word: esperar. I never really understood it. I mean, I know the two words are related. They’re both about the future, about something that will, or may, come to pass. But it’s exactly that difference, as well as the difference in connotations (hope is always positive but often uncertain, waiting can be positive or negative and is usually more certain) that causes me to be surprised that they’re the same word.
This evening, I was at church for a Christmas Eve ahead of time service, a service my church holds primarily for the college students who will be leaving for Christmas. Candles lit the stage and the church was eerily quiet, quieter than it is on Sunday mornings, but the air was not empty. The air sang with electricity, something I would even term tension. It was as though the whole cavernous room was holding its breath, holding its breath for something to come.
What must it have been like on that first Christmas Eve? On that night when the world of the infinite God, the God that is incomprehensible to our limited and damaged imaginations, was readying to come physically into our world? It was the moment before two realities collided, the moment before everything was changed forever. I would bet that the very air held still, holding its breath for the moment that was to come.
The ground itself must have felt the nearness of the infinite, must have cried out to the heavens in its silence. The whole world was held as tight as the skin on a drum, knowing that the Creator was coming. It knew not where or when, not what He would look like nor how He would come. But for that night, mystery and uncertainty sang together in the electric air as the infinite poised itself to enter the finite.
In blindness, the world hoped. The world hoped and waited, though for what, it did not know. And at the climax of that tensity, a baby boy was born to a virgin in an inn in the City of David.
Esperanza. Hope. The Waiting.