By Beth Demme
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas / Everywhere you go / Take a look in the Five and Ten / Glistening once again / With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.
When it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, Advent has arrived! We could sing “it’s beginning to look a lot like Advent,” but it isn’t quite as melodic.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Advent / Every church the same / Take a look in the Sanctuary / Glistening once again / With Chrismon tree and wre-eaths a hanging.
No, definitely not as melodic.
Advent means “coming” or “visit” and it’s the season when the church anticipates the birth of Jesus. In other words, this is a season dedicated to waiting.
More than that, this is a season when we celebrate waiting.
One of my favorite Pastor-Authors, Nadia Bolz-Weber, sent out this clever tweet this on the first day of Advent:
Advent has arrived and we no longer have to wait to celebrate waiting.
To be honest, waiting is not something I normally celebrate.
When my family goes out to dinner, we go early just to avoid the wait. As I drive around town, I avoid buses because I don’t want to get stuck behind one, forced to wait at each bus stop. I watch crosswalk signs to know when my wait at the red light will finally end. If I’m forced to wait in a line at the grocery store, I pull my phone out to entertain myself.
I think you get the idea – I do not enjoy waiting.
Maybe you are waiting for God to heal you or a loved one from an illness. Maybe you are waiting for God to show up in the midst of a personal conflict. Maybe you need God to make himself present in your suffering, or maybe you just want reassurance that God is present with you today.
If waiting has gotten you down, please know that you are not alone. Psalm 69 says, “I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. … Do not hide your face from your servant, for I am in distress—make haste to answer me.” (Psalm 69:3, 17)
I’ve been like that Psalmist. I’ve cried my eyes out and sobbed until my throat was parched. I’ve begged God to be present with me, or to change a situation, or to bring healing.
Advent leads to Christmas. At Christmas, we celebrate that God was physically present in this world. We celebrate that every prayer uttered before the birth of Jesus, and since, has been heard and lovingly received.
Normally I do not celebrate waiting, but Advent is different.
In Advent, I wait for The One who is “the light of all people.” (John 1:4) I celebrate my belief that God will restore everyone and all things, from my smallest mistakes to the tremendous evil and suffering present in the world today.
In this season, I wait to celebrate the birth of the one who “was in the beginning with God” and through whom “all things came into being” and whose “light shines in the darkness” and overcomes the darkness. (John 1:1-4)
Advent is a time to remember we are all waiting on God and this wait is not wasted. Christmas is coming.
What about you? Are you good at waiting? Are you patient behind buses or in long lines? Are you waiting for God to show up in your life? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
P.S. Advent is the beginning of the church year. So, from my family to yours, Happy New Year!
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