More disappointing news — words like love, kindness and patience are being used less in American life. What does this mean? Well, I understand that patience is difficult. You know the old joke: I prayed for patience, but I’m just not getting it fast enough.
I get it. Waiting is not easy — waiting in line, waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting and wondering about the ones we love. Waiting is not easy, which may be one reason we jump so quickly from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
For those Christian traditions that use the church calendar, Advent begins the new year. Our church year has a rhythm that follows the life of Jesus Christ, and begins with the four weeks of Advent — a three-fold time of longing and hope as we await our Lord Jesus, the baby born in Bethlehem, Jesus present in our lives today and the second coming of Christ. This time of waiting is often marked with Advent wreaths with the four candles of Advent melting down to mark the time or an Advent calendar with windows to open each day.
Advent is a time of waiting and watching with hope and wonder, yet our worldly calendar is much more in line with the consumer year than the church year. Our confession this season might be as our congregation prayed this Sunday: “We confess that our busy doing and decorating have shrouded our Advent and caused us to close our eyes to the Christ Child. Forgive us for shaping the celebration to fit our desires…Focus our eyes and hearts on the coming Christ. Inspire us with your gift, so that we shout from the housetops the Good News that in the coming Savior, God is indeed with us. Make us into your joy-filled messengers, sharing your powerful message of salvation for all." — from liturgy by Rev. Ted Schroeder, Creative Communications.
Disappointing news is overshadowed by the Good News. God loves us! God longs to be with us! This is our God who was, who is and who is to come. And so, after our confession, we trust in God’s love and kindness and patience...and forgiveness. In the Advent/Christmas carol, Joy to the World, we sing, “Let every heart, prepare Him room.” So how will you prepare your heart? How will you celebrate Advent moments in the midst of this holy, yet frenzied time of year as we wait for Christmas? For after all, we have not one, but 12 wonder-filled days to celebrate Christmas, but that’s for another column. Advent blessings to all!