Each year at Christmastime, I lead the church in the observance of Advent. The term ‘Advent’ was adopted from Latin adventus which means ‘coming or arrival’ and it refers to the season of anticipation before the arrival of Christ, which, for our church, takes place the four Sundays before Christmas. Through our observance of Advent, we are, as a community of faith, encouraged to demonstrate and appreciate the characteristics of Christian expectancy – hope, peace, joy, and love. It is for this reason that we have been lighting candles and offering prayers since the last Sunday of November and will continue to do so through this weekend.
This year especially, I have been thinking about Advent and contemplating the arrival of what has been promised from a particularly secular perspective: I have been thinking about Advent every time I track a package. Because of the pandemic, most of my Christmas shopping has been on-line and, because of this, I am regularly checking my Amazon app and entering tracking numbers on the websites of UPS, USPS, and FedEx. Some days I am filled with elation as I see the progress of my purchases and other days I am filled with exasperation as I consider contacting customer service.
Many times, I am not in the most healthy of places. As trucks go up and down the street, I watch from the window (like a kid with a quarter waiting for the Ice Cream Man), wondering if they will stop and, if they do, will they have something for me. As the weeks turn into days before Christmas, I find that I am worrying more and more about the 3 Ds – delay, damage, or delivery to the wrong address. I have become so preoccupied with my expectations that I risk missing out on the blessings of what is to come.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV84)
This is why I need Advent. The words of Isaiah quoted above were written more than six centuries before the birth of Jesus. Imagine the tracking information on Isaiah’s laptop: “Expected delivery – March 7, 2638, before 9 PM”. The trouble with me is that I want things done on my time schedule; the gift of Advent is that it reminds us that all things are done on God’s perfect time schedule. Jesus arrived just when He was expected. Jesus will return just when He is expected. For that reason, we can have hope, peace, joy, and love today.
I will continue to check on the progress of my packages, confident that they will arrive when the time is right for them to arrive. I have hope that they will be before Christmas, but even if they are late, as I reckon time, they will still get here. I have peace in knowing that they are on their way or will be soon. I have joy in the anticipation, which may or may not be resolved on December 25. I have love in my heart for those receiving these packages and those carrying them to their eventual destination.
May God bless you in this season of arrival.