Usually the weeks leading up to Christmas are a whirlwind of activity. There are so many holiday related things I try to cram in every year including the Hampden Christmas parade, multiple annual holiday parties, baking Christmas cookies, Christmas shopping, and usually a couple of theatre performances plus whatever else might come along. That’s in addition to heading off to some other state for about a week to spend the holiday with either my family or my husband’s family.
This year aside from baking some Christmas cookies and doing a little online shopping none of that is happening. It’s obviously sad because these are all things I look forward to every year and bring me a lot of joy. Instead of spending the next several weeks ruing over the fact that I’m once again missing out on things due to COVID, I want to let this advent season be a time of rest, reflection, and anticipation.
Advent is all about waiting and expectation, but it is also about waiting on the unexpected and not having things turn out like we planned. Before Jesus the Israelites were expecting a savior to come down and overthrow the government that was oppressing them. What they did not expect was that their savior would come in the form of a baby who would grow up not to overthrow an earthly kingdom but to create a heavenly one while subverting many of the things they held to be true. He called them to be servants and to care for the poor and the marginalized. What they were anticipating did not look like what they were expecting.
Recently while we were all glued to social media and the internet waiting for the 2020 presidential election to be called I threw out a question on Facebook to have a little fun. I asked people to name something that used to bring them great joy but that people younger than them would never understand with the example of discovering a hidden track on a CD. The interesting thing that I found was that the majority of the responses people gave were based on anticipation for all kinds of things like not knowing who was at your door or calling you, waiting to develop photos to see what actually turned out, actually finding a new release movie in Blockbuster, standing in line to buy concert tickets, waiting to hear your favorite song the radio, and so much more. So much of our lives these days revolves around receiving instant gratification. We have forgotten that there can be great joy in waiting and anticipation.
This advent and Christmas season more than any other is all about the waiting and anticipation. We are all eagerly awaiting a time hopefully in the not too distant future where our lives will return to some semblance of normal. So this season while we’re all waiting I hope we can learn to wait in hope and eager expectation but not necessarily for the way things used to be. Let this be a time where we can stop and reflect on the future that Jesus came to create not one of earthly kingdoms but one of social justice and servanthood where we are focused on caring for the least of these while on this earth but also anticipating the heavenly kingdom he is preparing for us.