Advent is the time in the church year when we wait and anticipate. It seems like we have had plenty of practice at waiting this year. We have lived in such a different world as we have stayed home and stayed physically distanced from each other. We look at each other differently separated by masks and six feet of distance. The words of Mark 13:32 where Jesus says, “Nobody knows when that day or hour will come, …Watch out! Stay alert!” have deeper meaning and poignancy this year as I think about the number of times I’ve been told in the last few months, “I took a COVID test today and my results came back ‘virus detected’” or “a member of my church/family/associate at work was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID, I am self-quarantining until I can get tested.” We have been staying alert for so long and waiting and waiting. Perhaps it’s good we have a church season that reminds us that rhythms of waiting are part of life and this too shall pass.
This year maybe more than most we need to be reminded that at the end of the waiting and anticipating God is full of surprises, surprises that bring joy to the world, surprises that cause heaven and earth to sing. Could Mary have imagined as she carried the baby Jesus and as she raised him as a small boy the way he would change everything? And yet even in the not knowing she offered herself to God and continued on until in God’s timing his purpose and place unfolded. Perhaps this year, Advent and Christmas will remind us to keep going, to keep trusting God, to keep serving God in whatever form we can. The name Emmanuel means “God is with us” and it is one of the names of Jesus. This year perhaps even more than others we need to celebrate “God is with us.” We need to celebrate the light of hope that has come into the world. We need the reassurance that God is full of surprises, that God can bring life out of pain, hope out of despair. There is nothing like a new baby to remind us that the waiting and anticipating can bring incredible blessing. I join you in praying and singing, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
Have a blessed Advent and Christmas,