The Value of Waiting
One of the best things about Christmas as a child is the anticipation that comes for waiting for the presents that Santa Claus and family will bring on Christmas morning. Convinced we couldn’t make it until December 25th, every year my sister and I would sneak around the house in search of my mother’s secret stash of gifts. As soon as she had left the house to run an errand or two, we would frantically open closets and drawers, crawl under beds and flip up couch cushions, typically to no avail. But then one year, while looking in the attic, we found the entire loot: clothes, American Girl Dolls, jewelry. We had done it! Victory at last! The problem was that it didn’t feel like a victory at all. Instead, all the surprise and anticipation, the excitement of waiting, were gone. It was the worst Christmas we ever had. After that year, we never looked for our Christmas presents again.
It is true about the Christmas morning and it is true about the life of faith: there is value in waiting.
For the church, the season of Advent, the four weeks that lead up to Christmas, is a season of waiting. While Christmas explodes in the retail stores and Christmas candy appeared in CVS shortly after Halloween, the church takes a more measured approach, slowly decorating and only lighting one Advent Candle on the wreath each week. And not because we are stingy about Christmas cheer- although I think many people think that is the case and that church is the place where fun goes to die. No, that isn’t it. It is that part of the wisdom of faith this time of year is that there is great value in waiting. Waiting is an opportunity to grow; waiting allows our souls to grow up and to experience God’s grace, to learn that life is about God’s faithfulness to give us what we need in God’s own good time.
And when we learn to wait in hope and expectation, we open ourselves to the possibility that God can do new things in the midst of our everyday lives. Those situations and the relationships that are stuck in negative and destructive patterns, the every day errands and monotony of life, all can find new sources of life and strength from the God who came near to you and me in the most unexpected way possible: as a baby born in a manger to a pregnant unwed teenager.