As we enter the month of December and anticipate the Christmas holiday, I am reminded that the meaning of Advent involves waiting and anticipation.
I remember the year that I was pregnant with our first child. As Christmas approached I was thinking of Mary in a new way as she anticipated the birth of Jesus. We still had 4 more months of waiting for our first son, but that Christmas season, the idea of waiting took on new meaning for me. Being pregnant was a time of waiting with anticipation for what was to come.
Advent is a season in which we practice waiting; we wait for the coming of God as the baby Jesus. We need him to come. Our world is messed up and we are messed up. We struggle at times with our circumstances and long for God to set things right, to make us better. So we pray and watch for signs of his answer indicating that he has heard us and is present with us. We do all we know to do so that we are open and ready.
In the midst of hardship and disappointment, we continue to wait. We wait in hope. We wait by faith believing that something is happening in our world and that God is at work. We trust that the Spirit of God is shaping and transforming our lives into something wonderful and life-giving. Even in December’s lengthening darkness, as we anticipate the meaning of Christmas, this seed of joyful hope grows within us. We are pregnant with it. In our waiting, we are stretched; our thoughts and our feelings are forced to focus on what is coming. God is coming!
These words from Scripture remind us that waiting is a reality for all of us in one way or another. “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Romans 8:22-25 The Message)
May your heart be enlarged this Advent season as you anticipate the reality of God’s work in your life. Christmas is a time to not think only about the baby who came in the past, but the opportunity to think about this same Jesus who is at work in our hearts in the present.
Anticipate. Wait expectantly. Be pregnant with Hope.