“My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9
On Thanksgiving day I used my new non-stick roasting pan for the first time. I had wanted as roaster for the longest time. This year, as I got in to cooking more, I found myself dreaming about roasting pans, checking them out on line and really yearning to get one for this Thanksgiving day. So on Tuesday, I finally broke down, went to Macy’s, and bought one they had on sale. And on Thanksgiving Day, my turkey came our remarkably well and the clean up was a breeze with the non-stick pan. It was worth the wait, and I was so glad I finally got what I had been yearning for.
This Sunday begins the season of Advent, a time that recognizes the human yearning and longing for communion with God. The culture around us has already begun to celebrate Christmas with store decorations, radio music and TV shows. Over Thanksgiving weekend, you could see ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ on TV, listen to carols on the radio, and finish your Christmas shopping on Black Friday, all before the Thanksgiving weekend was over. We have become a culture of instant gratification, no longer willing to wait and long for, to want and yearn. We run toward Christmas, and we want it now.
In the church, we see the effect of this as churches cut back on Advent observance and start Christmas celebrations early in December. Church members want to sing Christmas carols on December 1st, want the church decorated before the first Sunday in Advent, and schedule pageants and cantatas earlier and earlier in the month. But the Christian calendar is not made to hurry up the season; it is created to remind us of our yearning, our longing for something or someone who will bring us back into relationship with God once more. It tells us that we can’t make that happen ourselves; we have to wait, to watch, to hope with yearning and longing for God to act on our behalf.
So this December, I invite you to hold off on celebrating Christmas. Take time to yearn for a Savior, to long for a renewed relationship with God. Let this season of waiting remind us that in Jesus Christ, God did for us what we could no do for ourselves, overcoming the separation from God created by our sin. All our singing and decorating can’t restore our communion with God; only waiting for and receiving Jesus as our Savior can do that. And we couldn’t make that happen any sooner; we can only wait on God with yearning and longing.
Prayer: Holy God, help me to wait for this Christmas with a sense of yearning, to long for the celebration of Christ’s birth with a renewed appreciation of what you have done for me and for humankind in the birth of your son. Let me rest with that yearning so that I may understand once more how far from you I am on my own, and how great was your response when it came. Let me not rush to celebration, but instead, allow me to live in that place of need, sustained by my hope in you and always aware that I am dependent on you to love and to save. For I ask it in the name of the one who came in the fullness of time to save your people, Jesus Christ. Amen.