Rev. Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor
Our wait is almost over.
In our worship services tonight, and in congregations all over the globe, the faithful will gather and light the Christ candle and sing of Christ’s birth.
We have spent four weeks preparing, attending to spiritual disciplines both communal and individual to make room in our hearts for the birth of Mary and Joseph’s baby.
We’ve decked the halls, sent holiday cards, prepared for gift exchanges.
Some are preparing for travel to see loved ones for the first time in many months.
In the home I share with my spouse, we have marked the waiting time with lighting our own Advent candles on Sunday evenings.
Each day, I attach a little Velcro figure to a cloth Advent calendar depicting the nativity with all the characters (the animals are my personal favorites – there’s even a cat at the manger).
On this day, there is only one more candle to light – the Christ candle.
There is only one more little Velcro figure to attach to the cloth Advent calendar – that of the baby Jesus.
The story of Christmas tells us that our waiting has not been in vain.
We have faithfully prepared, and we will enter the season of joy that follows.
God has taken on flesh, and dwells among us, “full of wisdom and truth.”
It is curious, though. We already know the end of this story.
Jesus will be born, ready or not. And there is grace in that.
But there’s also a potential trap.
We can be fooled into thinking that the efforts around our preparation and waiting produce something.
Plainly described, we perform X number of actions during this season of preparation, and at the end Y happens – the birth of the babe.
Maybe we can flip this formula on its head:
What if God is the one doing the waiting?
… waiting on us to trust the unbounded grace God offers – no matter what we do
… waiting on us to love who and what God loves
… waiting on us to hear the divine “yes:” “You are mine, and I love you. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can change that”
… waiting on us to deeply understand that our hearts are already ready to receive God-in-Christ. Our hearts (and our entire beings) are created by a loving Creator. There’s already a God-shaped space in our hearts (with special thanks to St. Augustine for that insight).
May this Christmas be our season of joy, of grace, of mercy, of a communal “yes.”
What are we waiting for?