During Advent, I sometimes feel like I’m . . . well, cheating. Advent is the lengthy novel that I’ve chosen to forgo in favor of SparkNotes. It’s the waiting, the lifetimes of waiting, that I don’t have to experience because I was born after the coming of Christ. I’ve never doubted the outcome of the Christmas story, because I knew the end even before I was told the beginning.
Maybe you remember your own childhood Christmases, or have young family members reminding you that they just can’t wait for Christmas to arrive. Maybe one of those children still tells you that he/she is “five and a half” years old, because that’s a very significant amount older than just five years old. Here is a sense of immediacy, a sense of existing right now and Christmas only six days away -- Ah! Unbearable. I see children in the mall on Santa’s lap who can’t sit still from excitement, wishing that Christmas would come a few days early. On the other end of the spectrum, I see harried shoppers who can’t walk slowly for fear that Christmas will catch up before they’re ready. I am reminded that Advent is about preparing, and reflecting, and waiting.
Waiting is the word of Advent, if I could pare it down to one. A better one might be “word” itself. We have the words of Scripture and centuries of oral tradition which speak of the Messiah: words of comfort and reproach, words of summons, of promises, of proclamations. Our Advent lessons are littered with words of promise, and it’s these words which culminate in the living, breathing Word of God: Jesus Christ.
So whether Christmas is coming too fast for you, or lagging behind, remember that we can’t change the time it comes in. We don’t just have the waiting here, we have the words before Christ and Christ, the Word itself. And though the meme above pokes fun at the relative obscurity of Advent, we are reminded that our few weeks of waiting represent the centuries of waiting on Christ’s coming. Advent reinforces the significance of the Word. It draws the community of faith together over time. Christ came before us, but Advent (literally, coming to) reminds us that he came for us, died for us, saved us. Advent marks the beginning of Christ’s actions for us. Let it remind us also of His most precious gift.
Written by Audrey Cook