BY AMY WALTON |
I’ll never forget a certain night of my life 35 years ago when I was waiting.
It was an evening when my husband and I were lying under our puny Christmas tree listening to carols. As we rubbed my seven months pregnant belly, talking to our little boy, we were giddy with excitement. We couldn’t wait for his arrival!
With Karen Carpenter singing “What Child Is This?” on our turntable, I thought about Mary, the mother of our Lord. I wondered how she felt when she was seven months pregnant, so young and carrying a son conceived in a way that still defies comprehension. Was she frightened? Confused? Lonely? Scripture provides us with only a glimpse.
What was her waiting period like?
We wait a lot in life. We wait in traffic that isn’t moving, which often causes us to scream, honk the horn, or call the office to say we’ll be late. We sit in medical offices, nervously thumbing through an issue of People magazine, as we wait to see a doctor. We wait in line to purchase tickets to a show we’ve been longing to see. We wait for the rain to clear so we can go outside. We wait by a loved one’s side as he passes into the more immediate presence of his Savior.
Our waits may be filled with anguish and uncertainty, excitement and anticipation, patience and impatience, dread and grief.
Sometimes our waits seem to never end, such as when we pray and wait for a child or spouse to open their hearts to Jesus.
It’s the waiting that makes Advent such a meaningful liturgical season for me. Just as I was filled with hope for the coming of my own baby, I am filled with an even greater hope for the coming of another baby-Jesus. Emmanuel. God is With Us.
Growing up in the Moravian Church, I usually lit a candle on our church’s wreath during one of the Sundays in Advent. Our family’s wreath, however, which was a miniature version of the church’s, never got lit. My mother would explain what the candles and symbols meant, but we never sat by the wreath and read scripture or prayed. It served more as a decoration.
As a young widowed mother, I decided to make gatherings around the Advent wreath a nightly ritual every December. For years, my sons and I lit the wreath every night and talked about waiting for Jesus, both as a remembrance of His birth and as the hope of His Second Coming.
Now, as an empty nester, I continue to light my Advent wreath each evening before retiring. In fact, I look forward to this special quiet time more than anything else during this season. As I ponder the nearly unfathomable thought that God became man, entering this world as a little baby, I also think of those who waited before us.
The Jewish people waited for the Messiah. Their prophets waited, especially Isaiah, and spoke of his coming. John the Baptist waited, ultimately baptizing the one to whom he referred as the Lamb of God and God’s Chosen One. Joseph, the man who would be Jesus’s earthly father, waited.
I wonder how all these people felt in their waiting periods. Hopeful, watchful, scared, and confused are a few words that come to mind.
These words apply to me during my own Advent waiting period as I sit by my wreath at night. I am sometimes confused by how I allow myself to be pulled into the vortex of the “Buy Me!” messages of the season. I am occasionally scared of the unknown that awaits Jesus’s Second Coming and the afterlife. I’m watchful as I seek to be Christ to those around me. I’m hopeful for eternal life in the more immediate presence of God and for sharing His love in this life.
Yes, I wait as a mere human who remembers a loving God who- for a short while- became human himself.
Here in this season, in the midst of the countless catalogs that arrive in our mailboxes, we wait. In the advertisements that boldly beckon us to spend, we wait. In the quest to find those perfect gifts, we wait. In the push and shove of Christmas sales, we wait. Among the light displays and the holiday movies, we wait. In holiday traffic, we wait.
Yes, we wait… by quieting and opening our hearts and minds.
Yes, we wait… for Him. Emmanuel. God is With Us.
And as our beloved “Morning Star” carol proclaims, we wait for the coming Messiah to fill our hearts with light divine.
May it be so. Amen.
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.amy-walton.com or