As we enter into the season of waiting we call Advent, expecting that the Christ child will be born anew into our hearts and lives, let us give thanks. He will come once again as Emmanuel, God with us And while we are waiting we also, face the challenge of attending to the many tasks and traditions we try to fit into our crowded schedules thinking that Christmas just wouldn’t be complete without them.
Two of my favorite Bible characters are Simeon and Anna, who awaited Jesus’ birth long ago. They were wise and patient people whose hope for the future was firmly placed in the promise of the Messiah. Luke tells Simeon’s story in Chapter 2, verses 25-32. Simeon prays:
Sovereign God, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.
And of Anna, Luke says in verse 38,
At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Israel.
Reflecting on stories from scripture can remind us of our own stories. I was reminded of two stories that speak to me about waiting and about our knowing that God is with us.
My first story comes from the year that I was 13. My mother was pregnant and we were all waiting for my brother Tim to be born. He finally arrived on December 13th.. My mother was in no condition to search for just the right gifts for a husband and children of 13,11,3,2,1, and newly born. So I was “chosen” to help my father prepare for our Christmas, while my mother brought home our family’s most precious gift, a new baby brother.
And this year, before the season of Advent has even begun, I received word of the death of a friend who has been near and dear for many years. Her wisdom, faith, and welcoming spirit ushered me into her family hearth and heart, and brought untold blessings. She took my wonderings and questions and held them with me; that divine understanding might come. Last week, at the age of 101, She left this world, to transition to the next, where if there is waiting at all, it will be a whole new experience.
I close with a prayer from a New Zealand prayer book.
Welcome , welcome, Jesus Christ our infant savior,
baby who makes every birth holy.
May we, who like the shepherds
have witnessed in the stable a new kind of love,
return to our work with joy.
May we, for whom the heavens have opened
to proclaim that God is with us.
we who have fed on living bread
and drunk the wine of heaven.
go out to be instruments of your peace, day by day.
Regional Church Council