The Waiting of Advent

Originally published Friday, 09 December 2016.

I look forward to Advent every year. It is a special time of year for slowing down and remembering Christ, His birth and why He came to earth. It's a time to marvel at the thought of Love coming down to live in this sinful world. And it's a time for wonder and amazement at the way God chose to carry out the story of redemption.

What an amazing thing! God, the Maker and Creator of all things, enveloped himself in human flesh. He entered this sin-stained world, not by means of a shooting star or some other grand spectacle but through the womb of a humble teenage girl. He wasn't born in a palace but in a cow's feeding trough. He wasn't born into a royal family but into poverty. He gave up the royal halls of heaven to live among us, die for us, and make peace with us.

The word "advent" means arrival or coming of something anticipated. The weeks preceding Christmas is a time of waiting as we prepare our hearts for His arrival. It's also a time to remind us that we are waiting for the second Advent and Christ's return.

I am not very good at waiting. In fact, I'm a rather impatient person. This is true of our culture as well. We thrive on instant gratification. We don't tolerate lines, slow computers, and saving before we buy. But like a fruit picked well before ripeness, rushing through life leaves a sour and bitter taste. Much is missed when we speed through life in a blur.

The most important and beautiful things often come from waiting. Seeds planted, then watered and provided sun, grow full and healthy until the harvest. Nine months of pregnancy results in the birth of a precious child. A friendship nurtured over time results in deep trust. And when the heart is quiet, contemplative in prayer, and meditates on God's word, the waiting results in a soul filled full and satisfied.

"Not everyone can wait; neither the sated nor the satisfied nor those without respect can wait. The only ones who can wait are people who carry restlessness around with them and people who look up with reverence to the greatest in the world. Thus Advent can be celebrated only by those whose souls give them no peace, who know that they are poor and incomplete, and who sense something of the greatness that is supposed to come, before which they can only bow in humble timidity, waiting until he inclines himself toward us--the Holy One himself, God in the child in the manger. God is coming; the Lord Jesus is coming; Christmas is coming.  Rejoice, O Christendome!"  --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I pray that we are those who can wait. I pray for quiet hearts that seek our Savior. May we look beyond the tinsel, pretty wrapping paper, and wish lists and see the humble stable. And in that stable, may we see the utter depths of Love that was born to die. This Christmas, may our souls be filled with the joy that can only come from those who know their Savior has come and is coming again.