“The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton. In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. … You are aware of the beating of your heart…The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.” -Frederick Buechner
December can be a mixed-up time, with huge expectations, where both the joy and pain of years gone by all return and take their place at the table. We hold our breath in expectation of what could be and breathe a sigh of small relief when it’s all over. The world has tried to convince us it’s nothing a little Black Friday/power hour shopping won’t cure… load up with some new stuff, check off the list, and everyone will be just fine. The ‘peace on earth’ thing seems to not begin until the 24th or so. December is a noisy month, but advent should not be.
The first Sunday of advent rests ironically, on the Sunday between ‘black Friday’ and ‘cyber Monday’. If ever there was a time to embrace the quiet, it’s this weekend for sure. We celebrate the exact opposite of possessing and acquiring – we celebrate the holy longing for something not yet possessed. We light the first candle of hope in the darkness and we wait for what has been promised.
The days are short and the nights are long, literally and figuratively. God reminds us that we are waiting for our Light to come. Waiting to be out of the darkness. It isn’t something we do well. The line at Costco is 16 people deep, traffic is awful everywhere you go, the ‘Run, Run Rudolph’ song is playing on the radio and I feel like I’m in a Chevy Chase movie. Never do I see people as out for themselves as I do in December. I so wish we could get through the season with Christ in the foreground instead of in the background.
Luke 2 tells us of an inn keeper that had no room for Christ that first Christmas. Matthew 2 tells us of King Herod who was too afraid to let Him rule. How many of us miss the whole point of this season because we are either too occupied or too afraid to let Him come rule our hearts and lives?
Our kids have advent calendars, three to be exact. They remind us that we are waiting. They remind us every night that the time is coming when we will receive a great promise. We think of the Hebrews 2000 years ago who waited in silent darkness for a Savior. We know that their wait paid off. He came and appeared as promised. He has promised to come again, and so we wait.
As we make our lists and check them twice, let us not miss Christmas. Let us somehow feel a bit of that emptiness that existed before the promise was fulfilled. We celebrate His first coming and wait joyfully for His second. In a world of instant gratification, may we learn and instill in our children that there are some things worth waiting for.
Let us begin Advent, waiting.
Not the “going back to sleep” kind of waiting.
Not the impatient pacing.
Or the wasted anxiety of waiting.
Not even the passive-aggressive waiting that says, “Really? We’ll see.”
Let us begin Advent, waiting.
Getting up and joining the adventure,
Even when we don’t know where it will take us.
Shifting the impatient waiting to expectant living.
Boldly claiming the Good News that we know will come.
Waiting with joy as we reach out with the grace of God that is so much more than amazing.
Let us begin Advent. Michelle Thomas-Bush
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