Friday, December 20, 2013

The Wisdom of Waiting

Hi, friends!  So, first a brief disclaimer about the ridiculous fact that in the last 25 days, I've posted exactly one post (and a pre-written one at that!).  Apparently having the cold that never ends yet also not being satisfied with anything NOT homemade for Christmas (gifts for Anna, gifts for others, new Christmas stockings, Anna's Christmas dress, Christmas cards, etc) is a recipe for getting a bit behind on other things.  Especially when your toddler chooses the same 2 week period to learn how to climb up on 90% of the furniture in the house.

From the sounds of it, you probably think we're all-Christmas, all-the-time over here, but although there's plenty of red and green thread flying through my machine, we have yet to get our tree or decorate...or even listen to Christmas music.

I've written about Advent before.  Incidentally, two years ago I specifically mentioned that I would not advocate for a December void of Christmas music, and now this year I'm skipping ahead on Spotify when Joy to the World starts to play.  This isn't a post to tell you that you're wrong if you're belting out Joy to the World, or to convince you to hold your Glorias until Christmas Day.  It's just a reflection on what I've learned this year by doing just that.

Encouraged by Haley's post and others I've read (as well as dear friends who observe Advent very intentionally), I decided to really foster the anticipation this Advent.

There aren't a ton of Advent songs, but I have found such wisdom in listening to them over and over again.  They're so rich, and I never heard all of the beautiful theology by singing them once through on each of the Sundays of Advent.

I expected by this time in December that I would be really excited for Christmas to come.  I am, of course, but what I have found is that it is significantly overshadowed for my desire for Jesus to come.  I'm looking forward to seeing my sweet little girl in red footie pajamas find the presents under the tree, but it doesn't compare to the deep longing for the love of Christ to sweep over our world and our homes and our hearts.

In the past few weeks, it seems like we've found out about a lot of friends who are facing struggles - sickness, loss, the effects of living in a fallen world.  Seeing people I love hurting makes my heart heavy, and I yearn for all of the pain and suffering to be wiped away.  I've been frustrated by my own struggles to be the person I'm called to be, scared of what the future brings in a year of transitions.  And so I sing along (on repeat):

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the world thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to they glorious throne.

What's the lesson in all of this?  There's wisdom in waiting, and in discipline.  I don't think I would have experienced such a deep desire for Christ's love, for his forgiveness, and his saving power if I had skipped over O Come, O Come Emmanuael for Joy to the World for the last few weeks.  And when I DO sing Joy to the World (for the first of many times) on Tuesday night, there's going to be far more joy than I could have mustered back on December 1.

The constant earlier and earlier creep of Christmas celebrations is the perfect illustration of a world that wants instant gratification.  No one waits for anything anymore.  If something is good, the logic goes, we should have it all the time.  Take one look at our over-sexed culture for a reminder of that.  But, by definition, something special can't be special if we have it all the time.  It's impossible to sustain the excitement of Christmas morning for two months, and hearing Christmas music in the store while you're shopping for your Halloween Party (true story) isn't exciting, it's just annoying.

Just like the Church's teaching on sex and marriage, I'm sure people could hear about the discipline of Advent and think that Catholics aren't supposed to have any fun.  When the world hears "wait," it is misinterpreted as "no."  But what "wait" really means is - there is something so incredibly awesome coming; don't let it get watered down.  And get yourself ready!

1 comment:

  1. Eloquently said, Emily. And let me know if you ever find a good Advent CD. I looked briefly this year but didn't find anything before I got pulled in two different (blond) directions.