The season of Advent is all about patience as we prepare to celebrate the Christ’s entry into our world so long ago in Bethlehem and anticipate his coming in final glory at the end of the age when God establishes his Kingdom. The problem is that most of us (including myself) are not very patient. We live in the instant age where we can pull our smartphones out of our pockets and look anything up, anywhere and anytime. We can order something from Amazon and have it delivered the next day for $3.99 (if you are an Amazon Prime member). Amazon and Google have even started rolling out same day delivery to select cities in the country so lucky customers only have to wait a few hours to receive their purchase. We can stream millions of songs instantly via Pandora or Spotify and get sneak peaks at unreleased albums that the artist has just finished recording. We can download a movie from the internet to watch in just a few seconds. No more driving to the video rental store and waiting in line to check it out. We can choose from a smorgasbord of pre-prepared meals from the the grocery store and pop them in the oven instead of diligently gathering the necessary ingredients and following the step by step instructions of a recipe and then waiting for it to finish cooking. For these and so many other reasons we are terrible at waiting and have become extremely impatient as a society.
Nowhere is this impatience more on display that the Christmas season which retailers now start decorating for the day before Halloween. My kids haven’t had a chance to collect their candy and come down from the resulting sugar buzz before Santa, Christmas lights and holiday music appear in stores. Some churches start singing Christmas carols on the first Sunday of Advent rather than dwell for a time in the slower, less joyful hymns of Advent. And so we rush around in a constant state of stress because we can’t and won’t slow down. Indeed some of us have forgotten how to do so.
However we must recover the art of waiting and cultivation patience in this season of Advent if we are truly experience the joy of Christmas and the birth of our Savior. The ancient Hebrews waited for centuries before the Messiah appeared. Surely we can wait a few weeks to bask in the joy of Christmas. Join me in trying to slow down this month and work to linger more in the moment. Let us try to recover what it was like to wait for something we knew we wanted and deeply needed. If we can do it we will find that Christmas is even more joyful and our shouts of praise will be even more exuberant when the Christ child is born into our hearts once again.