“Why do they already have Christmas decorations up?”
“May I please have my turkey and football before the tree trimming and Christmas music?”
So many of us get caught up creating the ideal Christmas. Retailers set up their winter displays after Halloween, and we find ourselves buying a Christmas tree with clearance Halloween candy. We might as well, it’s in the same aisle.
As soon as the temperature drops a few degrees, we are ready to set up our Christmas playlists and transform our homes into winter wonderlands. But as Christians, we have forgotten that we are asked to wait.
There is a word for that time of waiting.
Advent — derived from the Latin word for “coming” — refers to the season when Christians experience a holy holding of their breath until it’s released in a shout of happiness at Christmas, similar to our own shouts of joy as children running to the presents under a Christmas tree. The reason we ran to those gifts under the tree is because of anticipation, built up over weeks of waiting. As adults we feel the same anticipation, but for so many more reasons than gifts under a tree.
Waiting is nothing new. A recent study shows the average American rush-hour commuter waits 42 hours a year. That is a lot of waiting, and most people might consider it time wasted.
We are a people who should be experts at waiting. We spend much of our lives doing it. The question to ask ourselves is, “How well do we wait?” Do we spend our waiting in worry, or see the time of waiting as an opportunity?
Maybe there is something powerful within the waiting.
Waiting can be a blessing, but gets muffled from the voices of busy-ness so often found in this season. The hope of Christmas is found along the way, if we intentionally listen to the joy to be found in each moment. The Advent of the Divine chose to enter into our world to bring a longed-for restoration. When the gift wrapping is in the trash bin and company has headed home, we will find ourselves once again waiting.
How will you choose to wait? We have a beautiful opportunity to show the world how to wait with joy.
May you be blessed with the discomfort of waiting. May you learn to wait well.
Join us this Advent season in the daily moments of waiting with anticipation on Twitter @rethinkchurch and Facebook, when we see that church can happen anywhere. Find daily spiritual readings in this time of holy waiting at Rethink Church.
D.G. Hollums is the Minister of Online Engagement for Rethink Church.