Waiting is the Hardest Part

My new friend, Emily, has convinced me to blog every day in December.  I figured that since I dropped out of the Blogoff last month, I should at least make an effort on what I am now calling the “December Blog-o-rama”.  Let it be written…and let it be done.

Tonight I attended the Women’s Advent Service, which has been a tradition at my church for decades.  It was a lovely service…but truth be told, it was as much a Christmas Program for adults as it was an Advent Service.  This is not to say it wasn’t beautiful (yes, I did just serve up a double-negative).  Everything was beautiful.  I have no qualms with the service.  Kudos to all involved.

The event did cause me, however, to ask the same question I ask myself every year.  

Why do so many people suffer from Advent Aversion?

Every year I hear the same refrain from people at church.  “Why can’t we sing Christmas songs at church until December 24?”.  It’s a reasonable question, considering you can’t go anywhere without hearing shmaltzy Christmas muzak.  It’s good for Christians to want to sing these great songs of our faith in community with one another.  Right?

I don’t have a problem with singing Christmas songs in Advent.  I do have a problem with abandoning Advent altogether.  I live in a world where I can have anything I need instantly, so it’s important for me to be reminded of the importance of waiting patiently for Jesus to come into the world.  Christmas decorations may come to retail stores in late-October…Christmas music might arrive at radio stations in mid-November…but the celebration of Christmas still has its rightful place on December 25.

Now, the “emergent-minded” person in me is tempted to cast a shroud of cynicism over the whole Advent / Christmas dilemma.  After all, Christ came into the world 2,000 years ago.  Why do we need to pretend to be waiting for him to be born in a few weeks?  Besides, if we wanted to celebrate Jesus’ actual birthday, we would, most likely, do it in May or June.  Why get all worked up about the semantics of something so petty?

Here’s why – because I need to JUST WAIT.  I need to be reminded of the mystery that was (and is) a part of Christ’s coming into the world.  I need to read from the prophet Isaiah about the “one who is to come”.  I need to internalize the anticipation that John the Baptist spoke of when he cried out in the wilderness, “prepare the way of the Lord”.  I need to be brought into the spiritual exercise of awe and wonder.  

We all do.  

That’s why Advent is worth observing…and celebrating.

 

Here’s an underrated song about waiting.  It’s from one of my favorite albums — Blues Traveler’s 1994 album Four.  The song is called “Just Wait”.  Some people think it’s a song about God…I’m not so sure.  I just like what it has to say about the necessary struggle of waiting.

If ever you are feeling like youre tired
And all your uphill struggles leave you headed downhill
If you realize your wildest dreams can hurt you
And your appetite for pain has eaten its fill

I ask of you a very simple question
Did you think for one minute that you are alone
And is your suffering a privilege you share only
Or did you think that everybody else feels completely at home

Just wait
Just wait
Just wait
And it will come

If you think Ive given up on you youre crazy
And if you think I dont love you well then youre just wrong
In time you just might take to feeling better
Time is the beauty of the road being long

I know that now you feel no consolation
But maybe if I told you and informed you out loud
I say this without fear of hesitation
I can honestly tell you that you make me proud

Just wait
Just wait
Just wait
And it will come

If anything I might have just said has helped you
If anything I might have just said helped you just carry on
Your rise uphill may no longer seem a struggle
And your appetite for pain may all but be gone

I hope for you and cannot stop at hoping
Until that smile has once again returned to your face
There’s no such thing as a failure who keeps trying
Coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace

Just wait
Just wait
Just wait
And it will come

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5 Responses to Waiting is the Hardest Part

  1. I hear you about Advent. This Sunday, we’re going all Apophatic– basically saying, ‘Advent is dumb: you shouldn’t wait for anything,’ citing the lack of Nativity and the dearth of ‘immediately’ in the Gospel of Mark. We’ll see how it goes (and it’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone! 😉

  2. Laura says:

    I posted a blog yesterday with the exact same advent wreath picture. weird. we are too much alike.

  3. Michael Peuse says:

    My home church in Holstein fills the front lawn Nativity a few pieces at a time – with Jesus being the final addition on Christmas Eve. It’s not a solution to the culture bombardment of the holiday rush, but it’s a clear statement of a call for patience. Good luck on the Blog-o-rama!!

  4. Erik says:

    MIKE – sounds like a cool, deviant approach to tackling the issue. Let me know how it goes.

    LAURA – this is why we’re only allowed to hang out a few times a year…otherwise we’d start to morph into the same person.

    MICHAEL – i like what your home church does with the nativity. My family used to do that same thing with the nativity in our living room. We didn’t even get to put the Wise Guys in the scene until Epiphany! It seemed a little contrived for a while, but eventually it shaped my understanding of the seasons of the church year. How’s seminary going?

  5. Laura says:

    …or maybe you’ve become like your wife, and thus are like me, because she and I are so much alike. Hmm. Ponder that.

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