Advent: Celebrate the Waiting

This may come as no surprise to some of you, but every Christmas growing up I would receive LEGO sets for Christmas presents. Usually, my parents would get me one big set, and sometimes, I would get smaller sets from them and other family members. I became an avid LEGO collector, and I still get LEGOs for Christmas. You can even visit my office to see a few of them on display!

However, my tradition of receiving LEGO for Christmas was almost broken one year. I must have been around ten or eleven years old, and when opening gifts with the family, I received several items that weren’t as interesting to me or that I already had… a t-shirt, some CDs, books, maybe some candy. I held out hope that the LEGO set I was waiting for would arrive, but it didn’t. The last gift was unwrapped, and I didn’t get the thing I wanted most.

Everyone is waiting for something and has expectations of what will happen when the waiting is done.

I love the traditions around Christmas time, especially as we progress through the season of Advent – the period of waiting and preparing for Jesus’ coming. For kids and even adults, waiting can be incredibly hard. There are many examples of waiting in the Bible:

  • Abraham and his wife Sarah had to wait until they were in their nineties before God heard their plea and gave them their son Isaac (Genesis 17).
  • The Israelites had to wait for forty years in the wilderness before they could enter the promised land (Exodus 16)
  • On multiple occasions, the Israelites had to wait for hundreds of years to be saved from captivity or exile.
  • There was a 430-year period of waiting from the time of the last prophet, Malachai, until the birth of Jesus, the promised Messiah.

Everyone is waiting for something and has expectations of what will happen when the waiting is done. Advent is one season of the church year where we celebrate waiting. It began in the early formation of the church as a celebration leading up to Christmas. However, Advent has a dual meaning in that we also look forward to the second coming of Christ.

Looking at our world, I see a lot of pain and hurt.

Looking at our world, I see a lot of pain and hurt. Broken nations, broken families, and broken people are hurting and still in need of a Savior. We have hope in our current circumstances because of what Jesus has already done for us, but he has also promised us that he will return again someday. The Gospel of John chapter 14:1-4 records it like this:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

The way to heaven is through Jesus Christ alone. We look forward to him coming again when the earth will be made new. By believing in Him, we have the salvation that Jesus bought for us on the cross.

The way to heaven is through Jesus Christ alone.

The apostle Paul says in Romans 8:18-25 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

These verses illustrate the reasons for our waiting and the hope that we have during the season of Advent. This is an important lesson for us to learn and to teach our children. Waiting always has its purpose. We can use our periods of waiting to remember and point others back to Jesus.

My parents taught me this well when I was young and waiting on the hoped-for LEGO set at Christmas. After all of the presents were unwrapped, and I thought I wouldn’t get the gift I wanted, my parents revealed one more present that was hidden away. They gave me a slim package that I opened to find the instructions to the big LEGO set I was hoping to receive. I was so surprised and filled with gratitude, and the memory of that Christmas still sticks with me today.

Waiting always has its purpose.

For the people of God waiting for the Messiah, it didn’t look or happen in any way they expected. They were waiting for so long for a Savior, just as we wait for him to return. It won’t happen like we expect, just like the humble birth of Jesus. Luke 2:4-6 tells it to us like this:

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Celebrate the waiting. Remember the humble Savior. Merry Christmas!