Advent is the season of waiting. It’s the season of preparing and making way for the coming of the Lord. (I have Godspell‘s “Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord” running through my head, which is super annoying since I don’t like Godpsell.)
At home we do whatever it is to prepare for the holidays, and yes I mean holidays. Christmas isn’t the only holiday this time of year. So whether it’s Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever, there is a lot of prepping and waiting.
In my case, it’s Christmas.
We bake cookies and string lights. We wrap presents and decorate trees. We put up nativity sets and light candles. Worship is about telling the stories from prophets of old and John the Baptist eating locusts and Mary singing.
My Advent devotional book, All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas by Quinn Cadwell (a fellow UCC pastor), talks about this waiting. In my first week of readings, Cadwell encourages readers to look around and notice what we might be waiting on.
For me it was waiting at stop lights, for the dryer to get done, movie trailers to end and the feature film to begin. It was waiting on emails and cookies to bake. I realized I do a lot of waiting during any given day.
One waiting I’ve done for the last several weeks is wait for the youth to respond for a church youth events. Emails sent out, text reminders sent and yet – zero replies. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to wait for the youth to respond to an event?
Plus, it’s been weeks – weeks! – of email reminders and talking and blah, blah, blah. Till finally it’s the ultimatum – reply or it’s canceled.
And then everyone replies. Which leaves me scrambling at last minute for drivers and food and sigh…
What bugs me about the whole situation isn’t so much about the waiting, it’s the unknown. Do I need to find drivers? Will I have enough food? It’s common courtesy really. That’s what RSVPs are for.
Let’s be honest – We’ve all done it. Not replied to an email evite or called the number on the invitation. I know I’ve done it. However, that doesn’t mean it’s right, right?
The shepherds didn’t have an rsvp to the manger in Bethlehem. In fact, that had a moments notice with an angel and star. I mean, they’d been waiting. That’s what the prophet Isaiah teaches us. Their faith told them that some day Emmanuel – God with us – would come. That message simply came at a moments notice. Same with the wise men.
Oh, and Mary – Do you think this little teenager (because she was likely a teenager) wanted a baby, especially before getting married? Ah, probably not, even if it was God’s son. And Joseph – no notice that he was to be the stepfather to God’s kid. Then there’s the notice about the census and ending up in a dirty, stinky manger because there was no room at the inn. There was no hotels.com or hamptoninn.com to reserve a spot. No calling ahead to make arrangements.
The birth of Jesus is filled with no rsvps.
I’m trying to remind myself of that as I stew over the lack of (or last minute) responds from the youth for upcoming events. Drives me nuts. And yet Jesus’ birth didn’t have them either.
There you go again God, teaching me a lesson of faith.
What are you waiting on this holiday season?