Wednesday Word: Wait
We generally don't like that word.
We got tired of waiting, so check-out lines of 12 items or less were invented. When we got tired of waiting there, or when we got tired of dealing with people who brought 15 items to the line, self-checkout kiosks were invented. We are annoyed at having to wait at railroad crossings. We are apparently to impatient to wait at stoplights that, as long as nobody is coming from the other direction, we don't care what color the light is. We couldn't wait for dinner to be baked in the oven, so microwave ovens were created to cut cooking time to five minutes or less; and sometimes five minutes is too long.
I have to go through three stoplights in quick succession on my way to the office. I've learned that if stoplight #1 turns red at the right time, I can turn left to avoid it and come out ahead.
We have entered the Season of Advent where waiting is not only part of the process, it's the entire focus of the season. In Advent, we wait for the coming of Christ – both in the manger and at the end of days. The birth, like the end of days, will come at a time of Christ's own choosing; for nobody can tell a baby when to arrive, and nobody can tell God incarnate when to return. And so we wait. We wait, and we prepare.
Christmas decorations are going up in homes all over. For some, that means a lot; for others, it is just a few. But how many of us, when we get to the magic date on the calendar (November 1 for the holidays, the day after Thanksgiving, the day before Advent, some other time?) rush to find, unpack, decorate, and place all of our decorations as quickly as possible? I think we do this so that we can enjoy the full impact of the holiday season. Or maybe it's because we're in competition with our neighbors who have already put up their outside lights. Add to all of that the rush to remove Christmas decorations as soon after Christmas as possible and it is clear we don't like waiting.
Why the rush? Christmas will come as it always does. And, as a side note, if you want to participate in the “war on Christmas,” hold neighborhood Christmas parties and go Christmas caroling in the days between December 25 and January 6, being sure to remind people that these are the 12 Days of Christmas.
But back to Advent – why the rush? Advent is the season of waiting. It is the season of hopeful expectation. It is the season we need to take time and intentionally slow down.
This Advent, try doing things a little slower. Take some time and read Luke 1:1 – 2:20 over the next few weeks, not rushing through the story, but taking time to hear and listen what is being said there. If your tree isn't up, try decorating it in stages. If you have a nativity set, begin the practice of walking the pieces toward the manger as Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Don't be in such a rush to get to Christmas that you miss the beauty around you while you wait for his arrival.