Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
James 5 (NRSV)
Today’s advent words are ‘patiently waiting’. It’s hard for any of us at any age to be patient. It’s especially hard at Christmas. Remember how difficult it was when you were small to wait to see what wonderful gifts Santa would bring? Did you peek in closets trying to get an advanced view?
James used the Old Testament prophets as an example of patience. “Brothers and sisters,” he writes, “as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” One of the prophets he surely had in mind was the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah refused to give in to the despair of his time. Isaiah still managed to hope in God. And under the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit Isaiah was able to write, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
“He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth . . .” He may not say it, but in there you can still hear “BE PATIENT.”
No matter what else you think Christmas is about, it is also about patiently waiting. It is not just about a house so lit up you can see it from space, or about giving or receiving the biggest and best gift money can buy. It isn’t about eating ham or turkey. It’s not simply about spending time with family-- as precious as that may be. It isn’t even about celebrating an infant’s birth in a manger.
Did you catch that? Christmas isn’t even ultimately about celebrating an infant’s birth in a manger. Christmas is about the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan of salvation. IOW;
God has a plan for our world.
A plan that extends from creation
Through the manger
through the cross
and the empty tomb
God is at work bringing in a perfect world a world where all people will live in harmony and dignity together as children of God a world where that which is broken will be made whole a world of peace, joy and love. Sure, the babe in the manger is an important part of that plan, and it is right and good that we celebrate his birth. But Christmas is only a part of the entire Christ event. It is not only about the coming of Christ, but it is also about the coming of God’s Kingdom when Christ shall reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords forever and ever.