I hate waiting. For anything.
Commercial breaks, my coffee to cool down, red lights to turn green. I’m in a hurry, with things to do, which is why you definitely did not see me camped outside any stores early Black Friday morning.
I tried that once, and once was enough. I huddled with a friend outside, with snacks and hot chocolate — and after an hour, I drove home content with paying the extra few bucks for whatever I wanted to purchase.
I am actually so terrible at waiting that my siblings and I would persuade my parents to let us open one Christmas present two days early. And on Christmas morning, you can bet we woke up around 4 every year until my parents established the “sunrise rule.”
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In a world of microwaves and instant gratification, it is no wonder that, if we are honest, no one is great at waiting anymore. We order online, and it comes to our door two days later. We nervously check the time if we stand too long in a line. We sit down for a nice dinner at a restaurant but squirm if our meal is not ready in fast-food restaurant time.
Maybe this is why I struggle during Advent (which begins Sunday), the Christian season intended to be one of expectant waiting. I can’t even make it through a book without searching for spoilers and reading ahead, but we are supposed to wait almost a month before Christmas? Historically, Advent was associated with a time of fasting while waiting for Jesus’ coming.
The beginning of Advent used to be when people decorated for Christmas, rather than after Halloween. It involves long prayers, daily devotions and candle-lighting. Yet somehow, amid the holiday pace, I rarely have time to slow down long enough to truly observe Advent.
This season is also a time to remember the Jews’ longing for a Messiah — an anointed king to restore and reconcile Israel to the world. They were a people who had been conquered and displaced, over and over again, for centuries. Their prophet Isaiah (written in the eighth century BC), spoke of better times in the future, of a Messiah who would set things right again by wiping away evil and oppression and establishing the kingdom of God on Earth.
The prophets told the Christmas story hundreds of years before it happened.
The Jewish people have waited centuries for a Messiah. Christians found him in Jesus, but Jews are still waiting.
If they could wait that long, surely I can slow down for a few weeks. Surely I can wait without honking for the car in front of me to go. Surely I can walk through a crowd without feeling the need to push my way through. And surely I can take the time to reflect on Jesus’ coming, rather than succumb to the stress of the season.
Melissa Collier Gepford is one of The Star’s Faith Walk writers. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.