I have never been good at waiting. Anyone who has given me a gift knows that I can't help trying to guess what's inside before I even begin unwrapping it. I get impatient in long lines, filled waiting rooms and after being placed on “hold”. Unfortunately, on average I (we) spend around an hour every day...waiting. For some of us, we wait even longer – for test results, for forgiveness, for employment, for something, anything to come along and move us in a new direction.
I have often heard Advent referred to as “waiting” for Christmas, as if it will unfold again just as it has every year, as if we already know exactly what it is we are waiting for. I find this very inconsistent with the true spirit of Advent. When we re-read the biblical story, we find anything but the fulfillment of pre-conceived expectations. Jesus did not come as a warrior king, he came as a defenseless baby. His parents were not wealthy aristocrats, but were poor teenagers. Jesus was not born in luxury, but in a manger, an animal trough. Those who waited for the birth of Jesus to unfold in a predictable fashion found themselves disappointed and disillusioned - he could not possibly be the One they had waited so long for!
This Advent, I am hoping to be alert to where and how God will be born again in and around me. In Signs of Emergence, Kester Brewing reminds us that we cannot wait with too many formed ideas of where and how this birth will take place, of where and how Christ will be found.
"We must stop. Wait. ...Begin to dream where God might now like to be found. Not in the house, but in a stable; not in Jerusalem, but from Nazareth; not with his family, but in the temple; not in the temple, but with the sick, the poor; the disinterested, the ordinary, the real, the drinkers, smokers, jokers, deviators, and slackers..."It is with this spirit of anticipation that I look forward to gathering with friends for the next four weeks of Advent to share in conversation, reflection and listening. We will meet at Three Layers in Springfield at 5pm (in the back room) beginning tomorrow night. As we share in great food and friendship, I am excited about how we can encourage one another to engage in the true spirit of Advent - - not simply waiting for Christmas to get here, but participating in God's re-birth in our time and place.