Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent...A Season to Wait

It's not even a week after Thanksgiving and already the "traditional" Christmas songs that we all know and "love" seem to have been infiltrating our radio stations for close to a month now. The "Christmas season" has been slowly spreading out and consuming the preceding months and holidays. From October on we are encouraged by commercials and culture to get ready, start shopping, because before we know it Christmas will be upon us. Unfortunately in our rush to get to the "big day" on December 25th we miss out on an important element of the true spirit of the Christmas season, the waiting. I think in general our culture has a natural aversion to waiting, to being patient. We want our meals, our coffee, our relationships, with no inconvenience, no hang-ups, and no delays. We live in a culture of instant-gratification and so when we think of all the good feelings, memories, food, and (if were honest) gifts of Christmas, we want those things without having to wait for Christmas day get here.

In recent years, every Christmas Eve when our extended family gets together, someone will always remind me of what I was like as a child on Christmas Eve. Ignoring family and food (well family more than food), I would spend most of the evening sitting in front of the tree staring at the presents so clearly marked with my name. At the time the anticipation was too much to handle and all I focused on all evening was that moment when I would get to open those gifts. In hindsight I realize how much I missed out on while waiting for that moment to tear into those presents under the tree. I missed out on family and memories.

What do we miss out on as we rush to Christmas day? It think it's simply, the waiting. Anticipation and waiting is a part of the Christmas experience and a beautiful element in God's plan to redeem the world.

Israel waited for centuries for the promised Messiah. The 400 years leading up to the birth of Christ is known as "the Silence of God" because for all that time not once did God speak to His people through a prophet. During those 400 years the people of Israel waited for their God to speak and their Messiah to arrive. We are reminded of this waiting in the life of Mary as she waits the term of her pregnancy to deliver the Savior of the world.

The season leading up to Christmas day, when we celebrate the arrival of our Savior, can be filled with more then shopping and baking and clay-mation TV specials. The Advent Season can be filled with waiting! Maybe not the most appealing addition to the holiday season (humanly speaking) but I think when we meditate on and participate in the waiting of God's people throughout history we plug into an age old practice of waiting on God. All of this culminates in the celebration of the First Advent (arrival) of our Savior Jesus Christ on Christmas. My hope is two fold; first, that we would connect with the waiting of God's people for the Advent of Christ and second, that we would be reminded of our current waiting as we anticipate the 2nd Advent of Our Lord Jesus Christ when he returns for His own at the end of history.

How do we do this?

Here is a daily scripture reading list and family activities that can be taken advantage of during the advent season.

And below is a short list of songs we can add to our Christmas playlist (or even make a separate "Advent" playlist like I have) I've come across that speak to this season of waiting and anticipating the Advent of our Savior. If I find any more good "Advent" songs I'll update this list. If you have any you might think would be good please tell me the name and artist in the comments below.

  • Passover Us - Andrew Peterson 
  • So Long Moses - Andrew Peterson 
  • Deliver Us - Andrew Peterson 
  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 
  • This Is Jesus - Brook Hills Music 
  • Come Like You Promised - Ascend the Hill 
  • Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing 
  • Psalm 35 - Sons of Korah 
  • This is War - Dustin Kensrue 
  • Suffering Servant - Dustin Kensrue