Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting for Jesus to come. We are not used to waiting for much anymore. Communication is instant; when is the last time you waited for a letter to cross the ocean on a boat so you could hear from a loved one? How many of you have only read about that in books?
We talk about food as instant (instant oatmeal, instant coffee) or at least fast. When is the last time you had to wait for someone to butcher an animal and roast it over an open fire before you ate? Again, how many of us have only experienced that in a book or movie?
We travel fast, usually. Likely the reason we are impatient with airport waits and traffic congestion is that we are wired to arrive soon. When is the last time you spent a day walking to get somewhere? Again, we see this in historical books and movies.
We are not wired to wait. We are not used to sitting in silence. We are uncomfortable listening for long. But advent is a time of waiting. Waiting for the most important gift in the world. Waiting for Jesus. Waiting for a person who, when we meet him, shakes us to the core in a way that transforms the way we live.
Waiting builds anticipation, fosters hope, gets us in touch with our need and desire for that which is better. This advent we wait for Jesus and we anticipate getting to know him in the new year through Word and Spirit.
In January you are encouraged to join together in reading the Bible in a year. We will suggest an outline for doing so along with several alternative options. It is important the we remember that we read the Bible to get to know Jesus. Disciplines are great, but they are not themselves the goal. If all we do is read the words and never connect with the truth of God, never meet Jesus, never experience the Holy Spirit, then we read in vain. To that end the Sunday worship will connect with the readings from the week and we will find opportunities to ask questions about passages and discuss what we are learning and experiencing.
Also in January, and very connected to reading the Word, we plan to have times of training in the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit inspired the Word. The Word makes us aware of the importance of the Holy Spirit. The two are deeply connected.
So in January we hope to make available as many opportunities as we need for everyone to find a time to learn what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit and to deepen their experience of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.
This is exciting stuff. This is us taking the incredible Christmas gift of Jesus and enjoying him in the fullest possible way. Jesus is the Word and he sent the Spirit. This is going to be a great Christmas gift. I can hardly wait. But we must. And as we wait, let’s wonder, anticipate, hope, pray and pay attention to all the longing that is in our hearts.