There is a reason we light 5 candles in our preparation during Advent. There is a reason we often start to tell the story of Christ’s coming in the prophets of the Old Testament. There are reasons that Advent is a season unto itself, a time of preparation and waiting for Christmas.
A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of being on the campus of Stanford University. I walked into the Memorial Church at the heart of the campus. It stands as a stunning piece of architecture filled with beautiful art. I sat in the pews to take it all in and have a moment of meditation and prayer. I didn’t have any gadgets with me (which was unusual), and noticed that almost every person who came in the church walked up to the front, took a picture with their phone and left. Had I had my phone, that’s probably what I would have done. But because I didn’t, I realized that we had very different experiences of this place. Taking a picture is like an act of consumption: “I came. I photo’ed. I conquered.” Then leave. Sitting in the pews felt more like an act of adoration: “O God, how beautiful! O God, thank you for this space. O God, thank you for this time in your presence.”
This to me is the heart of why we celebrate Advent and not just Christmas. There is virtue and fruit and character-building and perspective that only comes from the waiting. Being still. Being quiet. We’re no longer just waiting to see what Santa will bring us for our presents. We are waiting so that we can remind ourselves that we are not created for busy-ness, we are created to be God’s children. We have to wait, because if we don’t we will be so busy that we will miss the gift that shocks and surprises us… showing us how radical God’s love really is, that He would send his own son…
I hope you’ll join us in worship this Advent season at FCC Wilmington. My sermons will be all about this waiting, and how the biblical story describes a much different holiday than we tend to celebrate. This Sunday, 12/6, we’ll look at Zechariah’s silence. Then on 12/13 we’ll explore Mary’s anticipation, and finally the shepherds’ stillness on 12/20. I hope you’ll explore the full News and Views this week to discover all the different opportunities for worship and fellowship we can share as we all wait for Christmas.