Watching and Waiting

One afternoon last week my wife and I found ourselves with some rare time for just the two of us. We decided to hit up the drive-through of that oh-so-ubiquitous coffee shop so she (not me) could get a pumpkin spice latte. After waiting our turn in the always too-long drive through queue, I requested one of the Fall-flavored beverages, only to be told “I’m sorry, but we’re out of pumpkin spice for the season.”

The week before Thanksgiving.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the rants by now: Halloween decorations go up in August, Fall-flavored drinks on sale when it’s still 90 degrees outside, Christmas lights are up November 1 and then, worst of all, Christmas trees at the curb on Dec 26th.

We binge watch our Netflix shows, and get irritated Disney Plus has the audacity to not release all their new episodes at once. We want it now! We are all rushing through each day, each experience, each moment…all the time. We run from one event to another, one season to another, one thought to another, seldom slowing down to even consider what is going on around us or, more importantly, within us.

And then, as the year sprints to a close, along comes Advent, this season so many have kicked to the curb as a tired relic of the religious past, ill at home in the fast-paced, high-tech, modern era. This season which says “Hey, in the midst of all this crazy, in the midst of all the purchasing and rushing and doing and going, slow downstopconsider what this is all about.”

Advent is waiting. Advent is longing. Advent is inhabiting the space between the already and the not yet. Advent is acknowledging the fact that all things are not as they should be, yet with a hopeful eye for the day in which they will be.

And you can’t rush it.

It requires you to sit in it, to ponder it, to long for the coming of the light in the midst of the the dark that seems to grow deeper each day. In light of all which is going on in our country, in our world, even in our own hearts, do we not feel this? Do we not resonate deep within with the desire for things to be made right?

I know I do.

We’re all watching and waiting for something to change, for hope to be realized. Just like the world was 2000 years ago, watching and waiting, sitting in it’s own darkness and pain and fleeting hope. Wishing and dreaming for the light to come down.

And down He did come.

But not yet.

Don’t rush it.

Don’t treat Advent like your favorite streaming show and try to cram the entire season down in one big bite. Don’t let the current of culture drag you away in the never ending rush for the next thing. Try not to get swept away in all of it, though I know that seems almost quaint or trite to say. In the midst of your work, the parties, the shopping, the wrapping, perhaps even the heartache, the loss, and the pain. It’s ok, no, it’s good, to sit and be aware of all those things, take them in, chew on them. Acknowledge where you ache, acknowledge what you long for.

Don’t rush past the ache, the longing, the pain of the waiting. These, too, are a part of the journey toward Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth. You can’t fully appreciate the joy of opening a present without the anticipation caused by waiting for it, wondering what mystery that box under the tree holds inside.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2 ESV

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