In this season of Advent we spend time in anticipation—waiting for God’s promise of a Savior to be fulfilled. Waiting is not an activity our culture does very well. Who likes to wait in a line at a grocery store? Or in rush hour traffic on I-5? Or for an escrow to close? Or for a college acceptance letter to arrive?
Yet anticipation can be an exciting, even exhilarating experience when the end result is truly worth waiting for. I think of my preparation for becoming a pastor, a process that actually took thirteen years from the time I first sensed God’s call in that direction to the day I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. As a widow and mother of a one-year-old in 1988, I had to uproot our household, downsize dramatically, and move to another city on the east coast for seminary. Six years and two thousand miles later I received my Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Seminary in Seattle, was certified ready for ordination by North Puget Sound Presbytery, and launched into seeking a call in the church. It didn’t materialize. I busied myself raising my son, teaching Christian Education, directing a divorce recovery ministry, and a variety of other volunteer activities. I wasn’t the least bit idle, but it was a long six years of waiting and anticipating until finally I was offered a position as interim pastor at a Methodist church. PC(USA) ordained me to take a Methodist call! Go figure.
Our waiting in Advent is not nearly so long, unless we look at it historically, with all the centuries of waiting for God’s people to welcome the Messiah. We take four weeks every year to reflect on God’s faithfulness in fulfilling that long-awaited promise of a Savior who would bring light into our dark world and peace into our anxious hearts.
Application: What have you waited for in your life? Perhaps a long time of anticipation for something of great worth to take place? How delighted and grateful were you when it arrived?
Prayer: Let us give thanks, not only for the magnificent gift of Jesus in Bethlehem, but also for the opportunity to anticipate anew his coming into our hearts again with all the promise of new life and redeeming love.
Written by Rev. Melody Young, Pastor of Congregational Care, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Chehalis, WA.