Well before Thanksgiving, and even before Halloween, a local store had filled their display with Christmas decor. Every year, there seems to be a headlong rush into Christmas that plows right through Advent. This seems to be an all too familiar pattern. Why wait for Christmas when we can have it right now? After all we live in a world obsessed with instant gratification. But something is lost in a jump straight to Christmas.
There is a wisdom in the pattern of the Christian year. The secular calendar begins in January with much hope for the new year, wrapped in new resolutions. The start of something is usually marked by a burst of action, but the Christian year begins with Advent. This beginning is marked by waiting, not action. There is no burst of energy, but rather a quiet simmer of anticipation. The differences in the attitudes facing these new "years” shows a fundamental difference in value. As Christians we are being taught the worth of anticipation.
Some of the most fruitful seasons of life can be seasons of anticipation. The period of time between a woman realizing she is pregnant and the delivery of her child can be a season of deep connection between the mother and her unborn child. If this period were skipped, many precious moments would be missed. There would be no relish of the first quickening of the child within the belly, no baby shower in which loved ones join to celebrate the coming child. But greater than this, without a season of anticipation, there would be no time for preparation. Much preparation is needed for a child. Drawers must be child-proofed, cribs must be procured, diapers must be stockpiled.
Lamentations 3:25-26 While seasons of anticipation can feel like "wasted time” in our fast-paced culture, they serve an important function. Waiting can produce a depth of emotion that is otherwise inaccessible. Waiting also allows for the important work of preparation. I challenge you to take this Advent to delve deeper into your experience of God, gaining a more intimate experience of the Holy yet to come.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Help me to journey with Mary as she feels the savior growing within her womb. Bless me with feelings of the Holy Spirit quickening within me, preparing my heart to receive the coming Christ-child. Teach me to keep holy time, unrushed by the demands of the holiday season. Teach me to relish the anticipation of the Divine.
Spend a few moments is quiet communion with God.
Secretary, Regional Church Council