When I worked in the corporate world, I worked for awhile in a software development team. It is a maxim in software that there is never any time to do things right–or at least not completely right: the attitude is that “we can always go back and fix it later.” There was just a rush to get things into production.
Somehow, that reminds me of Advent. We’re in such a rush to get to Christmas that we want to light all of the candles of the Advent wreath all at once. We want to tear open the little windows of our Advent calendars RIGHT NOW and discover that Christ is born and in our midst once again.
We can’t stand letting the world be quiet for awhile. We want to skip right past hope, peace, joy and love in order to rush to the manger and the baby Jesus.
I’m a cook. I love the process of thinking about what I’m going to prepare, then doing the chopping and the cooking, layering the flavors together so that everything turns out as close to perfect as I can make it. I like to think about what I’m doing, to determine if a shallot would be better than an onion, if fresh herbs are better than dried. I enjoy the growing aromas filling the house as the dishes come together. I like setting the table, seeing it as a blank canvas ready to be painted. I like when people sit down and eat, enjoying the flavors as well as one another’s company, and I appreciate the declaration that “this is good.”
Advent is like cooking a nice meal at home. It can be simple or it can be fancy, but it can’t be fast food. It needs flavor. It needs color and texture. And it needs to be a unique experience–not something manufactured for us by someone else. That manufacturing process, after all, is much that has ruined Christmas for many of us.
Everything in life happens in order and in its own time. After all, when the angel came to Mary with the amazing news that she would be the mother of the Savior of the World, she still had to go through nine months of pregnancy. Maybe we should view the four weeks of Advent as a quick symbolic representation of the coming of Jesus embodied in the expectancy of Mary. I’ve never had children of my own, but I’ve known lots of pregnant women. Whether this time is difficult or easy, the one thing these women all go through is waiting. There is no choice, for the child will not come until it’s time for the child to be born.
Sure, we can anticipate the arrival of Jesus. But he’ll be here before we know it. Also, waiting can make the actual experience that much richer! As Gene Peterson (The Message) retells Isaiah 25: 9-10:
Also at that time, people will say,
“Look at what’s happened! This is our God!
We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!
This God, the one we waited for!
Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.
God’s hand rests on this mountain!”