Pastor Devin Strong, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church.
It’s hard to believe it’s almost time for the season of Advent, but it’s true – the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day begin Sunday, Nov. 28, and end December 19, the Sunday before Christmas Eve.
However, our culture’s disintegrated capability to wait has made celebrating an entire season of waiting a very real challenge for the church. With ever-increasing conveniences like on-demand TV, one-day Amazon deliveries, curbside pickups, online check-ins, and EZ passes, we rarely have to wait for much of anything these days, which also denies us the excitement of anticipation – and the audacity of hope.
While I enjoy these conveniences as much as the next person, I think we’ve not only lost much of our capacity to wait, but also our ability to see the value of doing so. Preparations for Christmas begin earlier and earlier every year so that, by the time the church is ready to celebrate, the holiday sights and sounds have been in full swing for weeks — and we’re practically late to the party! However, the celebration of Advent directs our attention to something far more spectacular than a holiday party – the dual foresight of both the coming of baby Jesus and His return in fullness, power, and glory at the end of the world.
A soft prelude used to be played as Lutherans entered church from the narthex and sat quietly, waiting for worship to begin. Now it’s as though, even in church, we want to hurry things along. Perhaps more than ever, we need to lean into the counter-programing season of Advent. If we’re watchful, this glorious season will show us ways to quiet our hearts and free our minds from our to-do-and-buy lists, travel plans, guests’ arrivals and holiday parties and instead focus on the real “reason(s) for the season.” Maybe we can slow down enough to really enjoy our family traditions and even create some new ones.
Every night, our family lights the candles on an Advent wreath before saying grace at dinner. Some folks find that reading short, daily Advent devotions have a calming effect