Yesterday I waited in line for 12 minutes at Target to buy a single pair of sandals– an emergency change of footwear for my company holiday party to slip into when the dancing begun. 12 minutes with one item in my hands. I watched the woman in front of me unload her cartful as the cashier slowly scanned item after item. My impatience grew when she made eye contact, glanced at the single item in my hands before looking away and proceeding to unload her whole cart. Where I come from, you let someone go in front of you in cases like these.
But I digress.
Impatience has long been a virtue I struggle with. Just when I think I’ve kicked it, I find myself cursing traffic or tapping my foot at the lady in the grocery store line, and I am humbly reminded that I have, in fact, not kicked it.
Christmas is a wonderful reminder of the importance of patience. As the halls get decked and the countdown begins, anticipation grows for the special day on December 25th. We each look forward to different things– presents under the tree, family traditions, a nice meal, a classic movie and a cozy fireplace. But Christmas has always been as much about the waiting as it is about the delivery.
The Israelites waited hundreds of years for the fulfillment of the prophesied messiah. The “Wonderful Counselor” and “Mighty God” who would take away sins had been promised for generations. And when He finally came, all those years of lofty promises came bundled up in the form of a baby wailing from a manger somewhere in Bethlehem. A virgin birth and a dirty barn were not what anyone would have imagined for the grand entrance of the Messiah into the world.
Despite what anyone could have expected or reasoned, God fulfilled hundreds of promises through an ordinary girl, a podunk little town and an infant who would grow to be our Savior. But before proving to be the King of kings, before miracles and preaching and dying and resurrecting, Jesus was just a carpenter in Nazareth. For some 30 years, God was preparing Jesus’ heart; His period of waiting was not wasted, and ours are not either.
In the Church, we call the weeks before Christmas Advent. This season marks the beginning of the Christian year, and it is “a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.” I think amidst the Advent calendars and colored candles, we often forget the second part of that sentence. Advent, and Christmas for that matter, is not just about the Nativity.
We celebrate Christmas to remember and honor hat God held up his promises by sending His son that starry night. But more importantly, we celebrate Christmas to remind ourselves that as He fulfilled His promise long ago, He will do it once more.
May this Advent season be a reminder of all that our hearts are really waiting for, a celebration of the promise of fulfillment.