The season of Advent has always been a time of waiting in anticipation. Children wait (and not always so patiently) in anticipation of opening Christmas gifts found under a brightly decorated tree. Some people wait during Advent in anticipation of visiting with seldom-seen friends or relatives or of tasting Grandma’s lefse straight from the griddle. Each person has their own perception of the "ideal" holiday experience. It is natural to idealize these forthcoming events and hope and wish for what we desire.
You may, as I have, waited in anticipation of the perfect “Hallmark Christmas.” In my case, I may have, hypothetically, found myself trying to quiet four active kids sitting around the holiday table, cleaning spilled juice and picking up pieces of a broken dish while realizing that all hope for that peaceful, relaxing meal has withered as fast as the krumkake will disappear after dinner. Your experience may have been slightly different, but I think we can all see the difference between what we hope for, and what actually is.
In that same vein, I wonder what Mary was anticipating while she was pregnant and waiting for Jesus’ birth. Do you think she was anticipating a glamorous birth with fanfare and beautiful surroundings, only to have reality hit and find herself giving birth in a stable? I wonder what she thought during the preceding nine months knowing that she had been chosen as the mother of a King and Savior. It must have been difficult not to create an idealized view of what His coming would be like. I still find myself romanticizing around the holidays, as Mary may have, and planning how perfect everything should be. I should know better, but to a certain extent it is human nature.
And because it is human nature, it seems right to distinguish idealizing what would make us happy from the actuality of Christianity and the appreciation of our Lord. Instead of waiting and anticipating the peripheral “stuff” or affirmations we desire for our own purposes during this holiday season, perhaps we should spend advent waiting and anticipating what Christmas has truly brought us: Christ’s Light, Christ’s Peace and the Birth of Our Savior. To learn more about these wonders please join us on Wednesday evenings during advent in the Fireside Gallery for advent services from 6:30 to 7:00 pm.
Taking the time during the advent season to focus on what really is important may calm your mind and soul allowing you to answer the question, "What are you waiting for?"