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Friday, December 5, 2014

O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes in Sinai’s height
in ancient times didst give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Root of Jesse,
free thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save
and give them victory o’er the grace.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (tune: Veni Emmanuel)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Waiting is not a popular pastime. We Americans are busy, busy people. Why wait for a bookstore to order a book when you can download the e-version instantaneously? Why wait for the evening news when our cell phones can give us instant updates?

Our need for instant gratification has reached an absurd level: Amazon is developing flying drones for the fastest delivery possible. Short of a heart transplant, I don’t know what package needs to arrive with that kind of speed (or, wait, is Amazon shipping those now?).

The prickly enjoyment from anticipation is nearly extinct. Long courtships? Slow-roasted dinners? Three-hour movies? Forget it. Show us the highlight reel instead.

One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is actually the waiting. Our demand that we get what we want right now is frustrated by God’s design, and this comforts me. Through the centuries of waiting for a messiah, reproduced in miniature by the season of Advent, God reminds us of the value of patience. In expectation, we learn what is essential to our happiness and what is distracting and extraneous. We are forced to take stock of our time and our lives, which I hope we can bravely do. Without Advent, I fear that Christmas would begin to seem like any other holiday, a watered-down birthday party for someone we barely know, an excuse for mattress sales and three-day weekends.

Help me, Heavenly Father, to silence nagging impatience and to remember the excitement of anticipation, the joy of a promise, and the comfort of a hope. Amen.

Written by Jim Garner, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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