Advent is a season of waiting. We wait for our celebrations on Christmas day. We count down the days using Advent calendars to help our little ones curb their anticipation. We think about the gift that arrived in the manger. We mull the circumstances and consequences around the birth and the expectant waiting of the pregnant mother. Those looking for the Messiah had waited in vain for a word from God. The heavens had been silent for over 400 years, prior to that not-so-silent night when the startling announcement of a savior's arrival came to the shepherds. And we look forward to the time when Christ will return to usher us into the fulfilment of all our waiting.
But as we wait, how well are we waiting? Honking horns in parking lots, impatient remarks under our breath when someone has more that 12 items in the express lane, snapping at family members for not meeting expectations, withdrawing from events because our seasonal despondency tempts us to isolation? Or do we sit in rapt adoration? Silent worship? Quiet contemplation of the wondrous gift given as "God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven"? Do we buy less items that will be in the landfill in two months and choose to give experiences or handmade items instead? Do we consider meeting the practical needs of those in addiction treatment centres or recent immigrants whose property needs our maintenance skills? Do we send a loving greeting to a friend far away? Do we include estranged family in our dinner invitations?
The real question in our waiting is this: are we actively making space so our hearts can fully receive the gifts Jesus brings, even if they are disguised as work or sacrifice? Can we be still long enough to hear the quiet whisper of the Spirit? To express love. To allow joy to bubble up? To craft a place of peace in our home. To choose patience. Speak a kind word, do good for someone who can never reciprocate. To notice beauty, to be faithful in our daily mundane duties.
When rushing, pushing, hurrying and over-indulging is the theme of the day, can we choose instead to be gentle and self-controlled?
In 2012, a movie version of Tolkien's classic book, The Hobbit, was released. In it, Saruman thinks evil must be defeated with great power. But Gandalf is not convinced. He says it is the little things, the everyday choices, which can overcome evil with good. Bilbo was weak, but he became strong in his actions. He was used for good, despite not having great power.
We can fight evil in a similar way. The daily choices we make have larger consequences. As you wait in this last week leading up to Christmas, actively consider: How will I spend my time? Will I go outside my self-protective comfort zone? Will I make that nasty remark? Will I speak a kind word? Will I take offense? Or will I forgive a longstanding grudge? There is big evil in this world, but it can be fought, by God’s grace and by Spirit-controlled actions, one after another.
Embark on the unexpected adventure... wait on the Lord... and you will find strength. Wait for the Lord... and you will find joy.
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