The holiday season could not be further from this word. School programs, movies, lights, parties, shopping, and much more are so jam-packed into a few weeks that we really have zero time when it comes to reflection and catching our collective breath. Even when we have time to sit, the air is filled with sweet (and not so sweet…) music.
Christmas is the celebration of God coming to us. Advent is centered on this and it looks forward to the return of Christ. While we might not make a good habit out of being still in silence, a common thread in the narrative of the Bible is that of waiting.
Waiting captures the forward looking nature of the people of God. It is about looking forward for God to act in redemption. Even from the beginning, we are able to see the promise that God would crush the serpent in Genesis 3. Yet from the very beginning to the time of Jesus, centuries filled the historical chasm. Waiting for Abraham’s promise of blessing to be fulfilled. Waiting for deliverance from Egypt in the Exodus. Waiting for a Davidic king to take the throne after the exile. Waiting for God to act, as He once did in the Exodus.
Then, it happened.
When the fullness of time had come, “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).
Christmas came when the fullness of time was met. The waiting ended and those who were dead, were made alive. The drama that began at Eden reached the pinnacle thousands of years later. And now we wait again. This time, we wait for the full consummation and a renewed earth and heaven when Christ returns. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel captures this sense of longing perfectly,
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
But for now, we wait.