Waiting. Who wants to wait? Waiting in traffic. Waiting in line. Waiting for a file to download. Waiting for a meeting. It all seems like such a waste of time.
Yet, Advent, the four-week period of time before Christmas is all about waiting.
Last weekend, a line formed out the door at a favorite restaurant. “Standing room only,” the hostess said. My husband and I decided not to wait. Instead we went to another place to eat. Although the food was good, we were not satisfied.
Christmas can be like that too. We rush through the holiday, going and doing and getting it done - and at the end we feel empty and exhausted. Decorated stores, black Friday, cyber Monday and season’s greetings entice us. We forget that Christmas is not about the goods of the holiday but the good news of the Gospel. Advent reminds us to be still and know that God has always been at the center of Christmas.
Advent urges us to wait before proclaiming, “Joy to the World! The Lord is come!” In the waiting there is time to “let every heart prepare Him room!”
Waiting means stop. Waiting in Advent is not a waste of time. It is a rich time that allows us to prepare ourselves spiritually to celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Waiting lets us know that Christmas is not about us, or our lists, or plans. It isn’t about warm fuzzy feelings from family and friends. It is about our need for a Savior. It is about God who loves us and the whole world so much he sent his son to save us from our sins.
In a dream the angel of Lord spoke these words to Joseph concerning his fiancée Mary when she was found to be with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit: She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:21-23)
The love of God came down at Christmas as a human baby. Jesus. Our Savior and Lord. Pure grace. His life shows us how to live and his death paid the price for our sins. In the waiting of Advent, let that gospel truth fill your heart.
God’s people waited for centuries before his promise to send a Messiah was fulfilled. And over two thousand years later we still wait for the final fulfillment of God’s redemptive promises in the second coming of Christ and His Kingdom.
Why all the waiting? Ask God! When we wait upon the Lord God in Advent or anytime at all, the waiting reminds us that God is in control. We are part of God’s story, his plan, and his promises – not the other way around. Advent waiting helps us see Christmas as God’s gift to us. Other holiday gifts pale in comparison.
It has been said, “Good things come to those who wait.” So lets change our mindset about waiting. Rather than a bother, perhaps waiting is a blessing of time to stop and reflect on Jesus and His love. Years ago I developed a ritual I call stoplight prayers. At stoplights, stop signs, in stopped traffic, while waiting in the doctor’s office, in the grocery store line, in the airport or on the phone – I talk to God. Maybe as you wait this Christmas season you would like to try it, too.
Emmanuel - God is with us!