Waiting in Joyful Hope

Waiting…

We wait in checkout lines, traffic jams and doctors’ offices. We wait for our “fast” food to be delivered; we wait for babies to be born. We wait for much of what comes to us in this life. Given my own impatience, I can only imagine that the people in the region of the Jordan must have had an agonizing wait for the Messiah.

Like the people to which he preached, John the Baptist was also waiting. John was a desert preacher who waited for the unfolding of his life’s mission: to announce the coming of the Savior. When the time was right, John came out of the desert and into the region of the Jordan to fulfill his mission of preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah.

John was the voice that announced the Word. The prophet Isaiah foretold John’s coming when he spoke of “A voice of one crying out in the desert.” John’s job was to give voice to the Word. John knew himself. He knew who he was. He knew who Jesus was and what He had come to do. John had a mission, and he fulfilled it with great zeal. He prepared the people of his time for the One who would save them from their sin.

Advent is about waiting but waiting with a purpose. As much as we want to celebrate Christmas, Advent is meant to slow us down a bit and focus us inward. While the world around us is rushing to deck the halls, we are called to a quiet contemplation of what is to come.

During this brief season, our readings are rich with themes of hope. Now, more than two thousand years after Jesus’ birth, we become like those faithful people who wait with anticipation, hope and longing for the promised Messiah. This season offers us a beautiful time to make that special place for Jesus in the manger of our hearts. These four weeks leading up to Christmas offer an opportunity to sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” while others are singing “Jingle Bells.” It is a time to enter the silent stillness of Mary’s heart, as she awaits the greatest gift the world has ever known. It is a time to be still and silent in a world that is rushing to the malls and that fails to grasp the deep meaning of this season.

John’s message is “Prepare the way of the Lord.” The way of the Lord leads us not to the mall but to the manger. The way of the Lord draws us deeper and deeper into the mysteries of our faith and not racing to catch the distracting news of the day. The way of the Lord is peace, hope and love. The way of the Lord is gratitude for all that God has given us, and most especially, for the gift of his Son. We are called to prepare our hearts to receive the One sent by the Father, who redeems us and brings us home.

It is easy for us to get distracted by the twinkling lights, the Christmas carols and the pace that the world sets for us during this season. We have to work hard to create a space in our hearts to contemplate with Mary and Joseph the journey to Bethlehem. The truth is that Jesus has a gift for each of us. It won’t come wrapped under the tree, and it won’t be a Black Friday special at our favorite store. As we enter deeply into the mystery of the Father’s love sent to earth as man, we will discover that God has something very special for us: the gift of his Son.

Advent calls us to a child-like wonder as we wait for our Savior to come among us. Advent calls us to still our hearts and to push the world out, as we draw into the quiet stillness in which He speaks to our hearts. Advent is an invitation to enter into the mystery of Mary’s fiat—a leap of faith that would forever change the world. It is an invitation to trust in the messages of angels announcing the coming of great things. Advent is a circle of candles, not of red and green, but of violet and rose, which lead us in light to the humble stable.

Make time for Advent. Make time for stillness and silence. Make time for quiet contemplation of what is to come. As you open your heart more and more to the beauty of this story of our salvation, may God fill your heart with the precious gift of his Incarnate Son.

It is good to wait!

Advent blessings,

Deacon Tim

 

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