Waiting in the Dark

Single Candle Theme Slide - Purple Borders

I know that Advent is the season of waiting for Christ's birth.

I know that Advent is the time to expect God to act in powerful ways, even as we wait to recount his acting in the powerful gift of his Son.

I know Advent is a time to prepare our hearts and our lives for his coming.  It's a time to take stock of where we are in our faith journey and, through immersing ourselves in spiritual practices, to get ready for his arrival.

I know that Advent involves a hope for deliverance in the world through the Son.  It's a hope in a God that will rule with truth and justice and peace.

I know that Advent is a time to look forward to the coming again of Christ in glory.

I know Advent is a time to light candles, symbolizing the coming of Light into the darkness of the world.

I know this.

Even though I sometimes struggle practicing it, I know this.

But the world seems to know something else.  The world seems to know that Advent has been sucked into the Christmas season.  It is so difficult to wait in the dark when the bright lights, the sounds, the TV specials, the food, the festivities, the caroling, the music, the decorations, the trees...all of it...comes at us with such deafening noise and such blinding light.  It is hard not to get swept up. "'Tis the Season," we say.

There are calls from our communities and our churches and their people to "Keep Christ in Christmas" as if Jesus was bothered that the Wal-Mart greeter didn't say "Merry Christmas" as we push our way in to get a deal on waffle-makers.  The coming of Jesus is marked by the coming of a 50% off one-day sale in the sporting goods section.  Our Lord and Savior's birth is intimately connected to our consumerism and, if aliens were to come down on December 25th, they'd be hard-pressed to guess that the birthday we were celebrating wasn't our own.

And, even beyond the cultural pressure, I find that my calendar is bursting at the seams and my to-do list has several sequels.  Pastorally, there is a lot of pressure to perform this time of year.  There are many things to do.  And sometimes it's hard to figure out which ones are actually important.  Yes, we have small groups.  Yes, we have special fellowship time.  Yes, we kick worship into high gear.  Yes, we have special prayer services.  It can be overwhelming.

I keep looking around for some peace and quiet; someplace where I can turn off the lights and close my eyes and recognize the darkness of our world and anticipate the coming of the light of Christ.

But, perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place.

Perhaps the darkness I'm looking for is all around me.

It's merely coming at me with cookies and tinsel and waffle-makers.

We're all waiting in the dark.

If this is the dark, I wonder what the Light will look like.

Come, Lord Jesus.