Advent is for waiting, but I hardly know what to do with that concept. I’ve lived my life celebrating Christmas during this season actually known as Advent. I don’t know how to spend the month of December solemnly waiting. I love my stockings hung by the chimney with care all month long! I love the Christmas tree sparkling..as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers have been consumed. I like singing all the Christmas songs, not just “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” I’m a girl of my culture. But the Church calendar always pulls us out of culture and places us in a secret world of quiet, a place where our souls can receive during this season. The Christmas season of December is loud and full of parties and music and stressful shopping deadlines. But the Advent season is the opposite of my usual December: It’s quiet, it’s contemplative, it’s patient. How can we live in both at the same time?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t remove myself from the Crazy of Christmastime during this season. Our culture has demanded this time of us. That’s why my soul needs to learn the slowness found only outside of time, where God is.
The first time C.S. Lewis ever blew my mind was when, as a nineteen-year-old, I read his suggestion that God is not bound by time; and more than that, he is the boundary for time: “If you picture time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as a whole page on which the line is drawn” (Mere Christianity).
God is not bound by my calendar. God is not frustrated with the lack of hours in a day. God is not stuck in December in all of this materialistic madness. He’s not frantically searching for a babysitter for the office party or up late addressing envelopes.
Do you know what that means? We are called to wait because our waiting is real. Because God is both here in 2011 and there in the stable, ushering the angels to their performance above the hill of sheep and shepherds, ordering the star over Bethlehem to burn with frenzy above his son’s newly exposed flesh.
If God is not bound by time, then he is here with us and there with Mary and Joseph. He is both celebrating the birth of our Rescuer and at work restoring us because we have been rescued.
That means the waiting is not merely symbolic. The waiting is real.
This is what my Advent reading said last week: ”Here in time we make holiday because the eternal birth which God the father bore and bears unceasingly in eternity is now born in time, in human nature. Saint Augustine says this birth is always happening. But if it does not happen in me, what does it profit me? What matters is that it shall happen in me” (Meister Eckhart, “Where God Enters”*).
This birth is always happening. Jesus is always being born to the shouts of angels and I am always invited to wait with Mary for the coming of our Savior.
Here in time we make holiday because the eternal birth…is always happening.
May that be our reason to stop in the madness of the season and breathe deep the Advent. May we wait with joy and longing and great hope.