Advent is the most impatient of seasons. We can’t wait to put up the Christmas decorations and then can’t wait to take them back down. We can’t wait for the gift shopping to be over with at the same time that we can’t wait to see what’s waiting for us under the tree. The impatience of Advent is felt, even in church, where we can’t wait to sing the Christmas carols that have been playing in stores and on the radio since before the Thanksgiving dishes were washed and dried.
And that is precisely the point of Advent. Advent is a controlled exercise in waiting for something so wonderful that it turns us all into impatient children calling from the back seat, “Are we there yet?” Advent is a (reluctant) choice to forego the instant gratification for which our restless souls clamor. It enables us to appreciate the whats and whys of something, rather than acquiring it and then quickly moving on to the next item on our list. Mostly, Advent gives us a slight taste of the centuries of waiting for a Savior, that the Jewish people endured. And the waiting for God that we occasionally find ourselves enduring.
Years ago, our first ever trip to Arizona began with a drive to the airport in a blizzard. Sue and I could hardly wait to get to the warm and sunny destination that awaited us. But, wait we did. Our flight out of Hartford was delayed by the storm, which caused us to miss our connecting flight in Atlanta. Then, the plane we were rebooked on had a cracked windshield. More waiting. Finally, we landed in Phoenix after midnight. We drove from there to Sedona through the impenetrable blackness of desert night, unable to see anything outside the range of our headlights. When we woke in the morning the sight of the Red Rock country surrounding us was magnified in its splendor by the very fact that we were prevented from seeing it by the darkness along the way. Sometimes, life deals us delays and darkness on the road to the fulfillment of our hopes, over which we have little or no control.
“Are We There Yet?” will be the theme of the Advent sermons this year. Together let us make Advent a season to acknowledge our impatience with waiting, in order more fully celebrate the birth of our Savior on Christmas Day.