December Message From Pastor Stephanie”The Power of Waiting”

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22) I’ve often been a bit stingy about my Christmas spirit, telling myself I need to wait until after Thanks-giving to start savoring it. Some of it was because I believe in the importance of being thankful. . . lamenting how we’d become so consumed with the materialism that comes with Christmas, I have always hesitated to start all the Christmas “stuff” so early because I want to properly celebrate Thanksgiving and being thankful for all that God has given me.

But sometimes the Christmas spirit comes early. It’s September and you are in a store as they are putting out some of the early Christmas items like lights and ornaments and you think, “It would be nice to put up our lights early while the weather is still decent.” Or it’s the beginning of November and you find yourself thinking, “That Christmas movie Netflix is recommending sounds nice. Maybe I’ll watch it this weekend.”

It’s definitely not a bad or sinful thing to indulge in a little early Christmas celebrating. (I’m pretty sure my mom has been watching Hallmark Christmas movies for at least two months now.) There are all kinds of things the world has put into place that help get us in the Christmas spirit, and perhaps the longer we have it, the stores think we’ll spend more money? Probably.
None of these things are bad – I just made them bad in my mind because I didn’t want Thanksgiving to be overshadowed. But then I studied the real purpose of Advent, realizing that Christmas doesn’t really come until December 25th and goes on for 12 more days after that. . . and something shifted in me. The place between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day wasn’t just about preparation for the big day. It’s also about expectation, anticipation. . . and waiting.

There is something to be said for the power of waiting. There is something so special, so poignant, about spending the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day pondering and considering what it means to wait. In a world where waiting isn’t necessary in most things, waiting can be a powerful tool to prepare our hearts for the joy of celebrat-ing Jesus coming. Waiting creates expectation. It creates momentum. It also forces us to slow down, pay attention to our breath, and if we are really the introspective type, causes us to wonder why the slowing down is so difficult in the first place. This powerful tool is one our world doesn’t put upon us very often – there simply aren’t a lot of opportunities to wait anymore. So Advent provides an intentional season to do so. And of course, there are plenty of things to distract us from that waiting. We are given plenty to do. And don’t get me wrong – the things in the holidays season that keep us busy are often beautiful and wonderful things. I love seeing towns all lit up with Christmas lights. I love how we use this season to have parties and gatherings in order to connect with those we care about.

I love the spirit of generosity that hits us as we consider the perfect gift for someone we want to bless. But I love all those things because they are a reflection of Jesus’ desire for a redeemed world. And yet I often leave Jesus out of all those things. The only way I’ve found to not forget about Jesus is to slow down. To wait. To anticipate. And be expectant for him.

In Christ, Pastor Stephanie

Pastor Stephanie will be posting weekly Advent thoughts on Facebook during December. Search for Covenant Church of Thomaston.

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