December sneaks up on me, I admit. I savor the vivid autumn colors of October and November, sniffing appreciatively the crisp fall air, scented with wood fires and red leaves. Thanksgiving pumpkins and pies have barely faded for me when Christmas hits. Suddenly all the stores and radios are counting down the days until Christmas, decorative lights and wreaths spring up overnight in my neighborhood, and my firm intentions to stay calm for the Christmas season are in jeopardy.
My family intentionally chooses to slow down over the month of December, saying no to as many second-best things as we can. I relieve some of the school burden, and we attempt to slow down on some days to savor getting a tree, to relax around the Christmas lights, and to recount the Story to each other.
This year, I was hit by how much of the Christmas story is really about waiting.
Young pregnant Mary hears the news that she is pregnant with the God-Man. She waits and grows rounder, wondering, imagining, and breaking out into amazing Scripture-filled prayer songs. Nine months pass. Waiting…
Gentle Joseph receives the news that will look to the world like shame, disgrace, and betrayal. His engaged girl is pregnant. He waits, endures the scorn, waits for what may never be fully explained to the watching public, and chooses to believe in the unseen, to trust the angel messenger. Waiting…
The wise star-followers from the east, in their day to day science, uncover wild and strange constellations, uncharted celestial orbits. They calculate, discern, and then pack up. The sojourners travel for what may have been months or years, in that quiet monotonous passage of time on long road trips. Waiting…
The God-Man arrives, small, wrinkly and wet in a dark hay-filled cave stable. He wails, nurses, sleeps, and grows at normal human speed. Heaven waits in anticipation. The universe stands in the balance, unaware of and waiting for redemption.
I confess that my Christmases have lost their sense of waiting. My lingering autumn dance that then tumbles me into the second week of December catches me by surprise almost yearly. But this year, I am stopping, savoring, and deeply pondering the waiting.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I put my hope.” (Psalm 130:5)
“…while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13)
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart; and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
“The creation waits in eager anticipation…” (Romans 8:19)
“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)
What about you? What helps you slow down, savor, and wait this season? I’d love to hear from you.