Today is December first.
What do you feel when you read that sentence?
You may sigh, like my walking friends and I did today, and exclaim, "How can this be? Didn’t we just turn the calendar to November?" Or a panic may arise in you that tells you there are only 24 shopping days until Christmas. Or maybe you feel a sadness in facing the truth that 2016 is almost over.
As I turned the last calendar page this morning, I found a longing rising up within me. I discovered a yearning to engage in the waiting, the looking and aching for our Savior. It is easy to panic and rush through the first 25 days of December with gift buying and giving and parties, but how can I make this a meaningful time of looking into the depths of God’s most precious giving?
Psalm 130 says: I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the LORD.
I imagine the Jewish people as they kept their traditions, every year longing for a messiah, participating in the festivals and engaging in their rituals, with one eye to the heavens, wondering. When would God send the promised Savior? When would they be relieved of their burdens and fears? Where was that expected king? When would God come?
Well he came. Now we long for his appearing.
I wonder when I last had such a longing for Christ's appearing.
I long for peace. I cry for justice. I grieve over the madness. I pray for deliverance. I ask for healing for those I love. But when have I longed for Christ, himself?
Today I read, “Look for the small glimpses of God - glory breaking in, breaking out, sprouting, shooting, unfurling, bearing fruit, making a Kingdom, remaking a world. Slow and still. And seek the shoot that bears witness to God…He begs us to spend the attention of Advent on the little, the least, the lonely, the lost. Advent is made of the moments."
When I sing, O Come O Come Emmanuel, I realize that to find Him I need to look for him. Be attentive to the unexpected sightings will offer me those glimpses I long to have of the up-side-down truth of the gospel. That it is for the weak, the lost, the people like me of this world. It is not in spending, in power, in politics, in gifts. It is in Him, showing himself in ways we are not used to finding him.
I’ve come to believe that Advent means being on the watch. Keeping eyes open. Holding attentive ears. Looking to find Him, settling in the now, not in the not-yets. Christ is in what IS, not in what IS NOT. This preparation for his coming holds the tension of waiting-while-hoping instead of waiting-with-dread-and-fear. It is also waiting while doing. Waiting while placing a kind hand on a sweaty brow.
Today let’s unlock our crazed inward eyes and quietly watch for and become the unexpected presence of Jesus. It might be in a doctor’s waiting room or in the grocery store, or when approaching one whose hand is ringing the bell. Could we find him by reaching out to an overwhelmed new mom or greeting a cranky neighbor who waits too long to mow his lawn? How can we detect and respond in this advent season so that we and others will catch a glimpse of Christ…perhaps...Christ in us?
Maybe the coming of Jesus in this month of waiting, is Jesus waiting for me to see what is already here and offering it to those around me.
Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
Because, you know, January first is just one page away.