Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve: a time for waiting

All of the planning, shopping, wrapping and baking will be coming to an end over the next few hours. The time for rehearsals and presentations and schedules is coming to a close as well.

Will you deliberately finish or at least set the tasks aside?

Or, will you be simply overtaken by the clock?

Christmas is coming. December 25th is coming. The guests are coming. The time to get up is coming, provided you have the good sense to go to bed. The time to open gifts is coming, as well as the time to sit down together and eat.

Christmas Eve, though, is really about waiting and watching. Whatever your take on Santa Claus, the story reinforces a profound but often overlooked nugget of wisdom from the Biblical account of the first Christmas: there is a time to prepare and a time to wait, watch, and reflect.

Children in the weeks and days before Christmas put on their best behavior and prepare their lists in anticipation of Santa’s visit. Then on Christmas Eve they set out the milk and cookies, make sure the tree is perfect and then retire to their beds to watch and dream and wonder.

The rest of us would do well follow their example even if we have moved beyond the anticipation of Santa. Folklore, or at least parents who haven’t finished their wrapping, say that Santa doesn’t visit naughty children who aren’t asleep in their beds. But the truth is that without the stopping and waiting the wonder will be missed; and wonder is the teaching part of Christmas.

Mary, too, over many weeks made her preparations. But her baby, Jesus, did not arrive just because she was ready; she had to wait. After the months of controversy and making preparations, and days of long travel to a distant destination, Mary and Joseph found themselves with nothing more to do but wait; wait their turn at the census taker’s and wait for Mary’s baby to be born, and wait until the birth rituals allowed them to go back home. Through the waiting they were reminded of the wonder in which they were invited to participate.

As westerners, especially Americans, we aren’t the most adept at waiting. We’re do-ers, not wait-ers. So at a time such as Christmas we tend to forget the waiting part and we risk missing the wonder that comes with the wait. It is no serendipitous set of circumstances that Christmas comes at the end of the year. It is there to re-teach us the things we have untaught ourselves through the year. We get to see once again that we need the wonder that waiting gives us.

So over the next few hours, before Christmas Day arrives, enjoy your preparations but make time for the wait and the wonder that comes with it.

Links:

Visit from St Nick
Biblical record in Luke

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1 comment:

chelle said...

Waiting is the best part! The anticipation, excitement ... hehe good times!