Are you good at waiting?

Published 1:59 pm Friday, December 3, 2010

The season of Advent has begun in many of our churches.

This season is difficult for some of us as it requires repentance and quiet anticipation just as the rest of the culture is decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping and partying.

It is hard to be surrounded by so much glitz and tinsel and ho-ho-ho-ing when one is trying to repent and pray without feeling a bit pulled in both directions.

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In many ways Advent is exactly like preparing for a baby to arrive in our own homes. There is a nursery to decorate, so many things to buy, so much excitement around a new person coming into our family. But there are also the vitamins to be taken, the bad health habits to be replaced with healthy eating and sleeping, doctor’s exams and anxiety about the safety of both mother and baby.

Waiting with joy.

Waiting with fears.

Waiting and changing.

Waiting as a clump of cells become a whole person.

Waiting as a man and a woman begin to think like parents.

Waiting and watching.

Mary and Joseph had both been told by God’s messengers that the baby, Mary, carried would be special. More than special—the baby was to be the long-awaited Messiah, who would change the whole world and reconcile all people to God.

How’s that for a description of your child’s future!

I suspect Mary and Joseph had some interesting conversations on the long walk to Bethlehem. How incredible to think that all of God would come into the world in 6 to 8 pounds with 10 little fingers and 10 little toes!

This is what we wait for in Advent—all of God being wrapped in human flesh and born of a mere girl. We wait for the very presence of God among us, not in our hearts but visible to our eyes and audible to our ears. God incarnate, we say. God with a human body walking and talking, we mean.

Advent reminds us both of the awesome otherness of God and the even more awesome one of us-ness of God. God did not become a human being simply because God could. Never does God do something miraculous simply to show off. God breaks the rules, intrudes into the universe, lifts the veil only to bring us to God’s self.

God is not in the business of magic—God is in the business of reality. The reality that God loves us even before we seek God, forgives us even before we ask, knows that the one gift we need above all others is God’s loving presence in our hearts. God became one of us so that in touching the hand of Jesus, men and women like us would know God intimately. So that centuries later we would know God clearly, fearlessly, truly, hopefully and forever.

Advent is a time of waiting.

Advent says stop! Think! Pray!

Be open to what God will do. Live in this world as if it is God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom comes on earth only as it comes in us.

Christmas begins the celebration.

Advent waits for the forever joy of Christmas, for the coming of God’s kingdom, for the coming of Christ in our hearts.

So let’s decorate our homes and churches with joy asking that God decorate our hearts with good works, good will and peace everlasting.

God still comes seeking us even today. Listen. Look. Love.