By Pastor Rob Bloss
I’ve raised four kids, I’m married, and I’m a pastor so you would think that I would be good at waiting by now. I’m not. I ran out to a big box store to pick up a few things to finish up our Christmas decorating. Apparently, everyone else had to do the same thing at exactly the same time! This put me in the mood, but not the holly and jolly kind.
I don’t like to wait in line or on people. I like efficiency. I like getting things done. Waiting can feel like a big waste of time. Do you ever feel that way? By ever, I mean like over the past 9 months!
Advent, the three or four weeks in the church calendar that lead up to Christmas, arrives this year into this strange mix of cultural impatience and fear. Some believe we can simply power our way out of months of watchful waiting, overcoming 2020 by willing it away. Others have grown weary. The waiting has been too much, and depression or rage, the two extreme responses to prolonged fear, has left some feeling empty, without hope, and at risk of missing Christmas, again.
Advent itself is designed to act as a psychological and spiritual “pause” button. It teaches the wisdom of waiting and offers us a countercultural choice to embrace persistent, expectant, patience. It’s a reminder that there are times when waiting isn’t a waste at all, when good things actually come to those who put it into practice. Like a child who waits under the tree for his or her turn to open the gifts they have been eyeing and shaking for what seems like FOREVER. The anticipation only makes the moment all the sweeter!
Just as we have different reactions to the coronavirus pandemic, some in Bethlehem’s story found this unexpected interruption who came into the world terrifying, and others liberating. An anxious father, a mother lost in wonder, frightened shepherds, curious astrologers, a narcissistic and paranoid King.
But God shows up and breaks in, through ways unanticipated.
For the faithful remnant of Israel who still believed in the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus was worth waiting for. They waited patiently, in hope and expectation, for the fulfillment of an old, old promise. They believed the words of the prophet Isaiah, that UNTO US a child would be born. And so, when the time came, they were fully present to the moment. Their waiting wasn’t passive.
Waiting is active. It’s longing and looking. Worshipping. Always ready. Awake and alert. Full of faith rather than overcome by fear. Hoping with expectant hope for the Savior of the World!
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14 (NLT)
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” - Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)