Can it really be Thursday already? We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent 4 days ago and the week is almost over. Feels like I’m in one of those old movies that shows the passing of time by the flipping (and flying) of pages from a daily calendar. I’m compiling lists and checking things off; making plans and filling my schedule. Are there enough days to get everything done before Christmas?
On the other hand, my children feel that time is moving too slowly. Christmas will never get here.
I want time to slow down and wait. My boys are tired of waiting.
Advent is a season waiting: not the secular-Xmas waiting in line for Black Friday sales and Santa Claus, but of learning to live in the post-Resurrection time of waiting by revisiting those who anticipated Jesus’ birth. We read Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. We remember the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth, waiting years to conceive a child. We tell the story of Mary and Joseph, waiting for the fulfillment of the angel’s promise. We recall the story of Simeon and Anna, who waited for decades in the temple courts for the promised redeemer.
Yet, they weren’t characters in a Christmas pageant, waiting offstage for their cues. They were full flesh-and-blood participants in the life around them: doing laundry, sewing clothes, preparing meals, shopping, repairing, visiting, consoling. They went about their daily tasks, season by season, anticipating the fulfillment of a promise. Their hands were busy, but their hearts and minds were focused.
In her book, The Liturgical Year, Joan Chittister says, “the function of Advent is to remind us what we’re waiting for as we go through life too busy with things that do not matter to remember the things that do.”
I have a million little things to do in the next three weeks. I pray that, like Zechariah and Mary, Simeon and Anna, I’ll remember the things that matter. I’ll watch and wait for Jesus, our Messiah.