Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Micah 5:2; Isaiah 7:14; 60:2,3; James 4:7,8
Several days ago I walked into a Walmart and saw their bold sign shouting out at me “30 days until Christmas”. I must admit my first response was not good. It was not joy, anticipation or longing. It was a sinking feeling of dread. So soon? And so much to do! Then I caught myself and stopped . . . wondering how did I let myself get here? I love Christmas . . . I love the music, the joy, sharing the wonder of it all with my children, celebrating with friends and family. I love this season . . . but somehow I had let all the messages around me– demanding that I get this, do that, please them, bake those, go there–sap the joy right out of me.
Well I won’t have it! Christmas is a celebration of a wondrous mystery that changed the world and changed my life. I choose to walk through this season of Advent and relish every minute. I choose to look back and remember the promises of God . . . to remember what it must it have felt like to wait with longing for the coming of the Messiah. To imagine how it felt to hold onto God’s promises, trusting that no matter how long it had been and how impossible it felt, God would send his Messiah, that God would break into the world and change everything. I choose to step back from the franticness and reflect on our faithful God in whom we can place our hope today. I choose to focus on what is most important and spend time by myself and with my family waiting and preparing for the coming of Jesus.
The God who came is the God who still comes . . . the challenge is to use this advent season to wait with HOPE for God to come to us by his Spirit and meet us, renew us and refresh us. So I will wait with HOPE for God to come to my children to help them to grow in their understanding of what it means for God to come and for them to receive Him themselves, not just because of their parents. I will wait with HOPE for God to come to my friends who do not yet understand His love, those who know the story of the baby but have missed the wonder the gift. If God chose to come to earth as a helpless child in a cold dark stable, who knows how he will come to us in these days . . . who knows what unexpected means he will use to reveal himself and break into our worlds this advent season.
Will you wait along with me? Will you take time by yourself and with those you love to reflect on, wait for and celebrate the gift of God in Jesus Christ? Will you wait with HOPE?
O Come O Come Emmanuel is a beautiful Advent Hymn. Its haunting minor melody intensifies the message it brings. Listen to one or more of the versions linked below. As you listen, consider what part of this broken world–of your broken world– causes you to call out with longing for God to come to you?
Call out with your heart and voice to Emmanuel, God with us… and wait on Him.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltfAO1mYCsY (traditional version)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuJz4k43Zy4 (new version)
Prayer: Part of our family Advent tradition involves lighting one candle of our wreath each Sunday until finally on Christmas Eve we light all the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and finally the centre white candle representing Jesus himself. As we light the candles we sing…
While we are waiting, come, while we are waiting, come,
Jesus our Lord Emmanuel, while we are waiting, come.
It is a simple prayer. I hope you will make it your prayer as well, as we journey through this advent season together. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Contributed by Pastor Carla Olsen Draper
Photo: License Some rights reserved by dalefarwalker