Christ is waiting for us.
The paradox of all this waiting for the Christ child is that we know how the story ends.
Waiting is not my forte.
Sitting in the car repair waiting room tests my patience. Caring for a loved one who is sick for more than 24 hours is hard, especially when it is with one’s most beloved. The end days of pregnancy brought both the most profound sense of expectation even in the midst of breathlessness, sleepiness, a hurting back and swollen limbs.
No thank you.
And yet, the beauty of Advent, filled with the growing intensity of anticipation of the birth of the Christ child, is my favorite liturgical season.
Growing darkness over Advent days creates an atmosphere of calmness in the midst of the busyness of working, planning for the right gift for each family member, decorating the house, deciding on family visits, the awe of candlelit services, the comfort of singing carols, decorated public spaces, Christmas music, Lessons and Carols, Christmas pageants all engender warmth and anticipation.
The paradox of all this waiting for the Christ child is that we know how the story ends. We know that when Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem, they’ll find a place to stay. We know that when Mary gives birth the baby will be healthy. We know that shepherds will come to honor him.
Enjoying the candles in the night is much easier when we know everything will be fine.
Candles in the night do not exist at borders where millions of people are traversing from one home in search of another.
Or for single moms having to scrape together all they can, delaying paying the power bill for the gift their child has longed for all year.
Or for young men and boys are spending Christmas in prison a long way from where their loved can visit.
This Advent I was so moved at the National Vigil for Gun Violence Prevention by a church filled with those who have lost children, young people, parents and friends in gun violence. This fifth gathering, which began after the killing of children at Sandy Hook, is the gift of Christmas with the photographs of their loved ones, their broken hearts, tear-stained faces, gentle stories, grief, passion and inspiration for love.
We do not know how these stories will turn out. We do not know when justice will come. And that makes the waiting so much more difficult.
The reality of Advent isn’t that we are waiting for the birth of the Christ Child. The Christ Child is here and is waiting for us to come. He is crying out to us from the border. He is calling to us from the voices of the poor. He is shouting out to us from prison.
He is waiting for us to live out our faith. He is waiting for us to seek justice. He is waiting for us to pursue peace.
Let us go, for He is waiting.