I am an impatient person. When I spot something I want, I want it right now. If there is an idea that I think is great, I want to implement it. Right now. Lori has sometimes referred to me as “Mr. Immediate Gratification.”
So I understand the desire to move straight to Christmas. We want the joy…we want the celebration…we want the good feelings that come with Christmas. And the world around us encourages our rush to Christmas.
I spotted the first set of Christmas decorations up well before Halloween, and the first Hallmark Christmas move aired this year on October 26. And while “Black Friday” is often considered to be the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season, according to Pymnts.com, 90% of shopping that took place on Black Friday were things being purchased not as gifts, but as good deals for the purchaser.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to anyone getting a good deal. (I too have purchased both gifts and non-gifts on Black Friday.)
But I worry that sometimes when we go straight to immediate gratification, we “rush to joy” and forget the gift that Advent brings. And that’s not just the case with shopping. It is the case with our Spirits as well.
There is wisdom, growth and joy found in the waiting. And Advent is a season of waiting. Not just waiting, but also anticipation, patience and eagerness.
Once upon a time, the season of Advent was considered to be a season of penance. It was a season where we took stock of our own lives, our spirits and our relationship with God. It was a season to “make things right” before we received the gift of the Christ child; not because that gift depended on our being “made right,” but rather to make our selves as worthy as possible to receive this gift.
Of course, we know that we can never be made fully worthy. In fact, what makes the gift of Christmas a gift of grace is the fact that we cannot ever really be worthy of our own doing. It is only Christ who makes us worthy.
Advent is still about penance. But even more, the season of Advent is a season of anticipation. It is about looking forward to Christmas, realizing that it takes a journey to get from here to there.
I’m sure that as a kid, I drove my parents crazy with the question: “How long until we get there?” It didn’t matter where we were going. It wouldn’t be long after we’d leave until I’d first ask that question.
At first, they would tell me: “Two hours.” “90 minutes” “An hour and a quarter” “An hour 10.” “An hour and 5 minutes.” “An hour…” But eventually they would add two words to their answer: “An hour…be patient!”
I need to be patient. We all need to be patient. We need to learn to be content in the midst of waiting. When we are focused not on the immediate, it is easier to look around and to see what God is up to in the midst of the waiting and anticipation. God is preparing our hearts for Christmas. Embrace that.
Live in the moment. Look around. See what God is doing. Look ahead with eagerness and anticipation at the coming of the Savior.
Embrace the waiting. It is a part of the gift.
God’s peace, friends!