In some circles there is much talk about the war on Christmas in our culture. Whether or not that is the case and just what that means, I will let you be the judge. What I do know, however, is there is definitely a war on Advent. There I was a few weeks ago, mid-November, channel surfing on the car radio, and what did I hear—Christmas music! Not long after Halloween, I noticed that the stores leap frog Thanksgiving and start selling Christmas. I was at a nearby retirement center and there was an outing in November to see some sort of theatrical production having to do with Christmas. What is clear is that Advent doesn’t even receive the proverbial bone.
The Church offers a counter narrative. Starting last Sunday, we invited the church—and anyone else who will listen—to do something audacious—WAIT! We invited people to wait and watch for what God is going to give us. The waiting is a pregnant time. Think about it. The longer you wait for something, the more you discover what you most desperately need. Sometimes we realize that what we thought we wanted is not what we really want at the end of the day. Waiting refines our deepest desires. We also discover how impatient we are, and that impatience taken to the extreme leads to violence. In our impatience we lash out at others. Leaders of countries find it hard to wait for diplomatic solutions so they use force. Advent waiting is the recognition that whatever is going to happen is up to God, not us.
An Advent Church doesn’t wait in a void, but waits confidently because we know what God has done in the past. We wait in hope because we know that the God who raised Jesus from the dead cannot be thwarted. If God could overcome death and the grave on Easter, then we can be confident that God’s life-giving power will come into the world again and again until this world is the kind of world God wants.
Not a bad gift to receive for a little waiting during Advent, is it? Don’t celebrate Christmas too early. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.