These days, if I like a song, I download it immediately. There’s no waiting to go to the mall to buy the cd. We watch shows on DVR or On Demand. If I’m ordering an item online, two days seems like a reasonable delivery time…any longer of a wait is quite pesky. If I miss a loved one, I can instantaneously exchange words via text or even Facetime. I am quite thankful for these wonderful technologies that make life easy and on-demand. But, my need for instant gratification is only being fed more and more. Instant gratification rules the lives of my children. We don’t have to wait long for much of anything anymore. But waiting is good for the soul. Waiting builds anticipation and increases appreciation.
Advent is a precious season of expectant waiting – a time ripe for longing for a God who was made man, in the form of a helpless babe. In the sixth month of her pregnancy, the Angel Gabriel appeared to young Mary and told her that she was pregnant with the Son of the Most High. Can you even imagine what those last three months of her pregnancy must have felt like as she waited for this mysterious God-Child? What would the God-Baby look like? How can God even become human? She must have worried about how she could ever live up to expectations as His mother?! Then, Jesus was born. Shepherds and Wise Men (Magi) visited. They spread the word that, truly, the Savior…the Messiah…the Lord had been born to an unwed virgin in a manger. No pressure, Mary – you just have to raise this God-Child to adulthood.
Then, thirty plus years pass as she waits to see how her son, the Son of God, is going to be a Savior. Oh my, can you imagine the waiting? Do you think she ever nagged him? “Jesus, it’s wonderful you are a carpenter like your dad and all, but aren’t you ready to step it up? You’re almost thirty now.” I can’t imagine her wait, her anticipation.
Each Advent, we have the opportunity to wait. We wait for the celebration of the birth of Christ. I was recently struck by this particular version of “O Come Emmanuel” by Allen Levi, Ed Cash, and Bebo Norman that I have loved for almost twenty years now. The lyrics and the slow, almost hopefully somber tune capture our desperate need and hopeful expectation for the arrival of our Lord – Emmanuel, God with us. This hopeful waiting captures the essence of Advent.
“Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel.”
And even though we are still waiting during advent, we sing:
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel. Shall come to you, O Israel!”
In this first week of advent two thousand and sixteen years after Christ was born, we still wait. Because waiting is good for the soul. Yet we also rejoice; for the Light of the World has come to shatter the darkness. I think I might wait until Christmas Day to belt out this fabulous version “Joy to the World” this year. It’s going to feel good. Because some things are just worth waiting for.
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you. –Psalm 33:20-22
*You can download these beautiful versions of “Oh, Come Emmanuel” and “Joy to the World” on iTunes here.