A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Isaiah 40:3- (NRSV)
Advent almost gets lost in the holiday hoopla this time of year. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, or even before, lights go up outside the houses, stores are bedecked with Christmas trees, Santas and elves, and Black Friday crowds sweep through the sales displays. But Advent is meant to be before the lights and garlands and gifts. Advent says STOP between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It whispers, wait. Be still. Watch. Something is happening.
Something is missing
We aren’t people who like to wait. We want everything to happen now, right away. We aren’t people who always appreciate waiting for the first leaf thrusting out of the ground or stopping to watch the sparrow find its way to our feeder. Every year our lives seem to fill with more noise and activity and we find it harder to put down our phones, put away our games, turn off the laptop or TV and simply be.
As long as we stay busy we can convince ourselves that everything is fine, that we’re doing well, that life is great. But if the busyness runs out or we’re awake in the dark night we know there is something missing in our lives, some crucial piece that our heart or mind or spirit needs. We long for comfort, for certainty, for safety, for a rock to stand on as the world rushes past us.
That’s what the Jews wanted—a Messiah to make things right. They were watching and waiting, but, like us, they watched and waited for something spectacular to happen—for a king to ride in on a magnificent stallion, for a warrior to rally the people to revolt, for God to strike down the Roman oppressors. And all the time they were waiting, the great event had already begun in the stunned response of a young girl to the appearance of an angel, in the tedious journey of a man and his pregnant wife to a little town called Bethlehem, in the birth of an ordinary baby, crying and sleeping and nursing as all babies do.
Nothing really to see—no special fanfare or fireworks. Yet in the quiet, in the dark, the world was being changed forever. What are you doing this Advent? What are you waiting and hoping and watching for? Could it be that God is at work behind the noise and the flash, in hidden stillness and quiet changing the world?
Written by Phyllis Tippit