What Are You Waiting For?
A classic ad from my youth pitched ketchup. Carly Simon crooned, and a little kid looked longingly at an upside-down bottle, and a whole generation sang along, “An-ti-ci-pa-a-tion.” I remember begging my mom to buy Heinz, so I too could wait expectantly…for ketchup.
Advent is a season of anticipation. We walk these December days with eyes fixed ahead. Children wait for sleigh bells on rooftops. Families expect an evening or morning at the tree with wrapping paper strewn about, or a festive meal with our loved ones, or another dear tradition.
But there’s a shadow side to Advent anticipation. Busy people will run from event to event, sighing with relief at the end of each party. Lonely people will feel their isolation even more amid all the merriment. There’s a place for everyone in this blue picture – both the frenzied and the forgotten.
Mary and Joseph knew both sides of anticipation. We mostly imagine these two excited, and surely part of them was. The time had come. Their first child would soon arrive. But these two knew the other side of anticipation, too. There would be no friends from the synagogue; and an event that was dangerous for ancient women would happen far from the familiar. Powers that were had demanded third-trimester-travel to ancestral environs of Bethlehem. Would the baby wait out the journey? Who would help her if not? Mary would give birth surrounded by strangers.
What do you anticipate this Advent? Pinnacle will host a brilliant Christmas Eve celebration, and there’s a place for every one of us in this story. Whether you find yourself excited or dreading, elated or depressed, the story of Jesus’ birth does not leave you behind. This year, don’t leave the nativity at a dramatic remove, out there on a pageant stage. Find yourself in it. If family bliss awaits you, rejoice with the shepherds. If you can’t be with loved ones, feel your way into the loneliness of a young mother facing the birth of her firstborn child far from her home.
Unlike the trivial ad of my youth, our Advent an-ti-ci-pa-tion has high stakes. It is splendid and scary, friends. But somewhere amid the highs and lows of this very human December, the infant holy and lowly will appear and receive both our joy and our sorrow. He will host the hopes and fears of all the years – even yours and mine.