A Time For Waiting…
It is December 1st. And in our home that means only one thing: the Christmas tree will be bought (from the same place that supplied (supplies?) the tree at 10 Downing Street, don’t you know), decorated, and Christmas music – which a three and four year old have been trying to sing for weeks as they prepare for various nativities – can now officially be sung and played. But it hasn’t always been this way, for early in our marriage the tree would never be up this soon; songs would have to wait another week or two; and the only quiet nod to the encroaching festivities would have been a wee partaking in some of the seasonal snacks that are only available at this time of year (and I confess I had some Stollen yesterday…I know, in November!).
And the reason for this delay in joining the festivities had no deeply spiritual or theological justification; it was simply that my family had always done it that way. And it was only when I came to realise that I could earn easy brownie points with Karen that the changes that you can now witness came about! And so the point of this post isn’t to ask you to do something massively different: the days are long enough, dark enough, and wet enough without the Pastor asking you to hold back on something that might bring a bit of fun and light into an otherwise gloomy season.
But I do want to invite you to try something as the lights go up around you and people start to celebrate, and it is simply and yet difficultly this: wait.
Because Advent is a season of preparation; it is a time of waiting: the people of Israel were waiting for Messiah; Mary and Joseph were waiting for the arrival of a baby; the Magi had a long journey before they would encounter the young Jesus. And although we don’t know much about some of these times of waiting we can be sure that it formed character, moulded them as people, and shaped their walk with God – who very often, in response to our prayers and desires, asks us to wait.
So even as the tinsel goes up around us and as the party season kicks into full flow will you attempt to join me in not jumping too quickly to the end of the story, although we know it is there. But instead to move towards Christmas asking God to teach us patience as He invites us to enter into the journey that countless others have walked over the years. And as we do that, sitting and bringing before God all the other areas of life where we may feel like we are waiting for Him to intervene and act, may we encounter and know more deeply the God who meets us not only in the answered prayer, end result, or baby in a manger, but also in the waiting.