I must confess. I used to be rather impatient with all kinds of things. As a kid, I couldn’t wait for summer to be over so school could begin. I couldn’t wait until I was sixteen and could get a driver’s license. I was impatient when sewing clothes, taking a few short cuts here and there, despite my mother’s advice to the contrary. (As usual, she was right. The final product often suffered due to my short cuts.) Along the way, I’ve learned some patience, mostly through trial and error.
I remember making chocolate pudding from scratch once, following a recipe we had used in a home economics class. At school I had dutifully followed the teacher’s instructions to first sift the cocoa before measuring. At home, wanting a quick dessert, I simply measured out the cocoa and didn’t bother to sift it. The tell-tale lumps in the pudding I served, full of dry cocoa, were witness to my impatience.
Like me and the cocoa, a lot of us aren’t too patient when it comes to Advent. We want to celebrate Christmas now. After all, Christmas decorations have been up in the malls for weeks now. Why not deck the halls, wrap some presents and sing some carols?
Advent is a season of waiting. We wait, not only for our annual celebration of Jesus’ birth, but also for his second coming, for the ushering in of the reign of God. We watch for the signs of the second coming, not only the signals that tell us that change is near, but also for the breaking in of the reign of God here on earth, the visible signs of God’s presence among us.
Advent is not, however, a time for idle waiting, watching and wondering. No, Advent is a time for active preparation. We take efforts to realign ourselves with God. We focus more intently on prayer, devotion, service. Each Sunday we gather around Word and Sacrament, experiencing anew the breaking in of the reign of God. We are learning our lines, rehearsing our moves, practicing the interactions, so that when Christ comes again, we will be ready to live fully into the reign of God.
May your Advent days be filled with patience in good measure, that you can avoid the distractions of consumerism and holiday hoopla and focus more intently on prayer, devotion and service.
The sometimes impatient Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.