Saturday, 17 December 2011

Anticipation

It’s Advent again. The waiting season. I’m reminded of the old TV ad about the ketchup which is so rich and thick that it takes a very long time for it to come out of the bottle. The song featured in the ad was Carly Simon’s Anticipation which includes this line:
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway. 
Her words seem sad and not very hopeful. Unlike Carly Simon, in our Advent anticipation we Christians do know something about those days to come. The Bible is very rich and thick with hope for our future. Jesus is coming back. In the meantime, as we think about those days to come, we live in the waiting here and now when the sauce hasn’t yet come out of the bottle.

The children wait impatiently at this time of year, avidly counting sleeps until the big day. We “grown ups” wait, too; for gift buying inspiration, the last minute, a call from a loved one, for it to be over, that special piece of Christmas mail, the results of medical tests, for a separated spouse or a wandering child to come home. Real life with all its joys, awkward inconveniences, hopes and fears, continues. It all seems especially emotional and poignant in Advent.

Carly Simon again:
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasin' after some finer day  
The temptation is to chase. The lights and glitter, carols and good cheer make us want to fast-forward to the bright sugar plum Christmas “finer day” right now. But then we miss the deeper, more restful "with you now" Advent rhythms of anticipation and appreciation of God’s rich, thick goodness which can seem so slow in coming.

There are many things that can help us enjoy the anticipation. Advent Calendar devotionals, for example, especially with children. Spending less, worshipping more and giving Presence (Jesus in you and me, Immanuel); the gift of time spent with the people in our lives. From Advent Sunday until Christmas Eve I enjoy lighting up only the blue lights in my decorations. I like the sense of anticipation that is generated as I look forward to seeing the full, multicoloured display fired up on the night we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

In the midst of the "with you now" realities of your life may you have a slow, rich Advent full of delightful anticipation and, when the time finally comes, a lovely Christmas, thick with joy, wonder and all the goodness of Jesus Himself. Some things are very much worth the waiting.