I don’t wait well. I’m a get-it-done, check it off the list, gal, always trying to squeeze one more thing into my day. I get impatient when it takes too long to download something from the Internet, when I get stuck in traffic or must wait for an appointment to begin. I have spent a lifetime of pursuing efficiency and not wasting time.
No wonder I find Advent so challenging!. Four weeks set aside for waiting – specifically set aside to help us learn how to do just that and then to realize the benefits of waiting. During this time, we are called to not run ahead to Christmas, but rather press into this time of contemplating the coming of our Lord Jesus, both in his earthly incarnation, as well as his second coming at the end of time. Both are amazing experiences of our loving God to consider – the helpless babe contrasted with the powerful God, both of whom call us into personal, intimate relationship.
To contemplate these mysteries means to wait and not run ahead to Christmas, as much of the world would have us do, starting the day after Thanksgiving! It means sitting in the quiet anticipation, rather than singing the Christmas carols, knowing that the glorious music will come when it is time. Just as all things will come to us when the time is right. It means to prepare our hearts and minds to receive this helpless infant Jesus, as well as to prepare our hearts and minds to be ready for the last judgement, whenever that time may come. It means to stay focused on what is good and right and true and not skip ahead into whatever leads us away from that. It means to sit in the quiet, soak up the peaceful silence, while much of the world is frantically running around. Indeed, Christianity it countercultural!
Yes, waiting is difficult – ask any mother counting the days until her due date, any farmer watching for seeds to sprout, or any child anticipating a fun event. Yet waiting is good – it increases our sense of anticipation, making the joy of the anticipated event all the more wonderful and prepares us to appreciate what is to come more fully. But most importantly, waiting reminds us that all things are not under our control – that we are not God, but that we wait on the One who is.