Advent will be drawing down any day now.
The way we tend to measure these things, the calendar tells us Advent is at an end.
Yet, the truth about Advent is that until we arrive at the climactic moment in the story of God’s re-creation – a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21) – we live lives of expectancy and, the tougher part, waiting.
Honestly, we’re not very good at waiting.
Standing in any line that places us more than an arms-length from the front is cause for anxious thoughts. The hyper-speed of the Internet has taught its lesson well: Satisfaction is just a keystroke or a mouse click away.
But Advent immerses us in waiting.
The commercialized Christmas rushes ahead and cuts in line, pushing Advent to the margins. The marketable Christmas comes and goes with nary a nod to Advent, then is easily packed away like the decorations that have bedecked our homes and yards.
Forgotten, almost, is the true Christmas of the church that seems anti-climactic in the faux light of false worldly hope. The true Christmas ascends from Advent – not from the media or malls.
The word of the Lord tells us to wait. Yet, not just wait, but wait on the Lord. Wait for the Lord’s time. Wait for the Lord’s purpose. Wait for the Lord’s place. Wait for the Lord’s way.
Even Jesus tells his followers to wait on what the Father will do, just as he ascends to be with the Father (Acts 1).
Waiting based on hope for what is promised is never waiting in vain. Hope in the midst of waiting for what is assured is never hoping in vain.
Waiting just seems impractical. After all, Christmas decorations and sales arrived in stores a good while ago. Was it early October, or even late in September? So, why wait? It’s just not necessary. It’s just not practical.
True Advent gives birth to incarnation – the improbability of Creator appearing as creation so that creation is restored to what the Creator intended.
Is Advent practical? Not at all. However, therein lies its greatest value.
As people of the Word – God in Christ taking human form – we wait with knowledge. We wait with purpose. We wait with truth.
And Christ is born anew. And God is glorified. And peace comes to the earth – and we all wait for the eternal fullness of its coming.
Rob Hewell is a professor at Ouachita Baptist University, where he is director of the worship studies program. He is the author of “Worship Beyond Nationalism: Practicing the Reign of God.” Additionally, he is professor of worship and resident fellow at B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and is a member of the Ancient-Future Faith Network and the International Council of Ethnodoxologists. You can follow him on Twitter @DrRH2007.