As a child, waiting for Christmas morning to arrive felt utterly agonizing. The days seemed to move like dripping glue, as if the month of December had somehow expanded to include more days than the other months. When would Santa come? When could we open our presents? How long, O, Lord?! One year, my sister and I decided we had enough of this waiting. It was too painful. Instead of anticipating Christmas morning, we were going to look for our Christmas presents now. So, we did—in the garage, in the closets, underneath the beds, in the dresser drawers, even in the attic. Every day we searched and searched and searched, and one day we found them. And you know what? It was the worst Christmas ever. No surprise. No anticipation. No joy.
I thought that bypassing the waiting would bring everything that I wanted, but instead I found that I deprived myself of the gifts that waiting can bring.
As children, we wait for Santa Claus and Christmas presents. As adults we wait too. We wait for a job to materialize, to meet someone to spend our lives with, for a child, a paycheck, companionship, healing, test results. As my friend Whitney Rose says, “We measure periods of life by the wait.”
And while the waiting is lonely and painful and is often far longer than we would like or hope, there are gifts God has to give us in waiting: gifts of patience; gifts found in doing the hard, deep inner work to prepare ourselves for what is to come; the gifts of acknowledging the real and darkness of life while leaning into authentic hope.
Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation as we await the birth of Jesus Christ, our Messiah. For hundreds of years God's people anxiously awaited the promised Savior. In the season of Advent, we are given the opportunity to name the sometimes-painful things we wait for before God, while also embracing the gifts that waiting brings.
This Sunday, during Worship@5, we will worship in the round and join together in prayer stations that invite reflection, prayer, and action that help us to embrace the gifts of waiting that the Advent season has to give us. We look forward to seeing you there!