Update on Advent

December 7, 2006

Earlier, I posted about my dislike of the Advent “wreath” we use at Guadalupe. I am sorry, though not surpised, to report that inertia carried the day. We are using the deformed Advent device again this year. I guess will just have to wait until next year. That’s what Advent is about: waiting.

In a recent editorial in the Christian Century, John Buchanan noted that the Spanish word (and I will add, the Portuguese) for “to wait” is “esperar.” Being a little too close to the language to realize this myself, he pointed out to me that this is also the same verb we translate in English as “to hope.” It is true. In the Spanish brain, there is no differentiation in the actual words “hope” and “wait,” though I presume that just as we English-speakers have words that mean two things, context is everything (example: “wait” in the sense of passing time before an appointed event and “wait” in the sense of serving a table in a restaurant). “Hope” in Spanish is “esperanza,” derived from “esperar.”

Buchanan made the valid point that, at least for some, waiting and hoping are not that dissimilar of actions. Another word is “expectation.” I’m no etymologist, but “expectation” must surely come from the same Latin root as “esperar.” Thus, we get Advent hymns like “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” Christian hope is all about waiting for something that is actually expected.

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