A note from Pastor Evan, Dec 2018
My dear friends—
On the way home from Thanksgiving dinner, it’s become something of a tradition for us to turn on the very first Christmas album of the year. In fact, our family puts a stop to ANYTHING Christmasy before Thanksgiving is over, which I realize that makes me a bit weird.
Now it’s certainly NOT because I don’t like Christmas, but before I get to the reason behind our weirdness, I think we can all admit that we no longer know how to wait as a society, do we?
Do you remember when you wanted to buy something, you had to load up into the car, drive into town, and see if they had it? If they didn’t, guess you weren’t getting it or you had to put in an order for it to 2-3 weeks later. Then this last year, Amazon announced Prime deliveries that could get your socks and Cheerios to your home in two HOURS.
Or if we think far enough back, just think about how long it took someone to get across the country by Wagon Train. What do you think they would have said if they found out we could fly from New York to Los Angeles in just over 6 hours?
We live in a microwave culture in which even boredom is no longer possible. We live in a culture that not only hates waiting, it can’t imagine it. And yet, waiting is actually woven into the basic fabric of our existence by God himself.
God has made us to wait, for there is something about the waiting that makes us into fuller, more complete people. Like a child waits for the cake to finish baking. Like a woman eagerly awaits the end of her chemo regimen. Like a groom the night before his wedding longing to get to that honeymoon.
There is something about waiting that reveals things within us we could not see in ourselves, that whets our appetite for what we so eagerly await, that loosens our grip from certain things and tightens them on others.
And for nearly 1500 years, the church has celebrated a season once a year, four weeks in fact, to do one thing—wait. Depending on what tradition you grew up with, you may have celebrated this season before, while for others of us, this will be completely new.
Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival,” is a time to rehearse their waiting for the arrival of Jesus. Two arrivals, in fact: 1) the awaited arrival of Jesus as babbling baby, and 2) the imminent arrival of Jesus as conquering king. The first in humiliation, the second in glory; the first in condescension, the second in exaltation; the first for forgiveness, the second for judgment.
It is a season saturated in rich tradition and meaning. In fact, friends, we are haunted by Advent as we hear carols on the radio, see greenery hung at the grocery store, dress our homes in lights, share good food and rich wine, whispers of a generations of Christians who wanted to keep the sweetness of his arrival ever before the lips, the brilliance of their King ever before their eyes, who wanted together, even if just once a year rehearse their anticipation, our waiting, our longing for the coming of our King, crying “Even now, come, Lord Jesus.”
As we conclude this season of “discovering and abiding” (though we know we will really never end these tasks), one of the most appropriate things we can do is practice our waiting on the Lord. To even for four weeks see our need for hope, for peace, for joy and love, and to set our eyes on the coming King in whom it is found.
Practically speaking, despite our culture’s attempts to eliminate inconvenience, distract from boredom, dull the waiting… let me encourage you to intensify the waiting, to rehearse it in your daily priorities this month. Take your time. Be bored. Step into the longer line. Turn off Netflix. Take a break from Instagram. Perhaps even fast, and practice longing in which we stand.
Let’s join with millions of Christians around the world and throughout time who have celebrated this season of Advent—that we might learn to wait well.
In Christ for God’s glory,