BY THE REV. CHAZ SNIDER |
Often this time of year is associated with waiting, whether it is waiting in line at the mall to get that special present or waiting in traffic on the highway just to get to mall.
Maybe it is waiting in line to take your kids to go see Santa or waiting for Foothills to release its seasonal beer, the People’s Moravian Porter (something I know I have been waiting on).
It seems like we have been waiting for Christmas to come since October. I remember this year seeing Halloween and Christmas decorations next to each other at the store.
So when Thanksgiving has ended and we finished up all the leftovers it feels like Christmas has begun. Our Christmas trees go up, our sanctuaries get decorated, and the Moravian stars get hung up all over town. Christmas is here… right?
The answer (according to our liturgical calendar) is, well, no! We have to have Advent first and, then we get to Christmas.
Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas. We may be used to seeing Advent wreaths or Advent calendars, but often times we don’t fully celebrate this time of year. (The Moravian star is also known as the Advent star).
Advent is a time of preparing and getting ready. If we rush onto Christmas, we fail to get everything we can out of this special season in the church calendar.
I remember when I was kid I would examine the presents under the tree after my mom wrapped them. I would shake them, pick them up to see how much they weighed, each day trying to figure what was in them.
When I was allowed to open the first gift, I would base my choice on my in-depth research. All of that waiting, examining, and trying to figure it out would build up to the one choice of which gift would be opened first.
I rarely guessed right by the way. I still had no idea what was coming (except for Legos–they have a very distinct noise when shaken).
Despite all my trying to figure it out, my excitement of opening that first gift was not diminished. And even though I still didn’t know what was coming, every year I kept examining the gifts under the tree anyways.
There are different kinds of waiting. There is a passive kind of waiting, where we do nothing until whatever we are waiting on arrives. Like waiting in traffic.
And there is also an active waiting–maybe “anticipation” is a good word for it. With that kind of waiting we prepare, we get things ready, we examine and reflect. We shake the box. What is it? What does it mean to us?
That is what the season of Advent is about. It is about actively anticipating God coming into this world.
It is about reflecting on the areas of our life where God is already dwelling and examining the places where we hope God will enter into.
Christmas is about the entrance of God into the world in order to reconcile and heal all the fractured places.
Advent is about preparing ourselves for that coming. In Advent, we reflect on where reconciliation is needed and we hope for God to come with healing love.
That is even more important this Advent because our world, our country, and our society seem more broken, fractured, and divided than ever.
So remember it is not Christmas yet. Take time with the remaining weeks of Advent to stop, to reflect, to anticipate, to shake the box and prepare for the bursting forth of God in our world.
Rev. Chaz Snider is the pastor at Ardmore Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC
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