By Bob Hulteen
“Wait. Just wait.”
The luminous blaze bouncing off the shiny red ornaments on a Christmas tree adorned with spray-can snow was too enticing. Homemade bows encircled the boxes adorned in green, red, and yellow, filling the space under the tree. I longed to “free” the treasures that awaited by a slow, methodical disassembling of the wrapping paper to find that surprise awaiting.
Wait. Awaited. Awaiting.
Advent is always more than pre-Christmas.
As a young boy, I remember the December sermons and songs about waiting. I thought I was merely being taught a morality tale about discipline. Don’t open the Christmas presents early. Wait until you’ve been to the Christmas Eve service and come home to a full table. Wait until the dishes were cleared and the table cleaned. Wait until my father read the passage from Luke 2 about Caesar Augustus and poor shepherds and a refugee family and a multitude of angels.
BUT, DECEMBER IS ALWAYS more than department store or online sales. Advent is always more than pre-Christmas.
It is waiting. But it’s waiting that is also preparing. As the Baptizer reminds us, it includes “preparing the way of the Lord.”
Are we ready? Are we prepared?
One of my great fortunes is the fact that Vincent and Rosemarie Harding – inner circle leaders of Martin Luther King’s band of justice-bringers – would once a year or so come and spend a week at Sojourners Community. They would always bring a word of healing and a word of challenge; they encouraged us to graciously accept the things we could not change and to engage those that we could.
One memorable reflection offered by Vincent — when members of Sojourners were feeling especially powerless around the Reagan administration’s policies in Central America, South Africa, and the Philippines — included the insight “we cannot create a social movement; we can only prepare for the social movement and then engage it as it arises.” Vincent was a believer in the power of the Holy Spirit, he was.
So, as I imagine John in the wilderness “making straight the way,” I wonder when the time is coming. When will we see the lion lie with the lamb? When will we see the mountains made low? When will justice roll down like the waters?
Or, is the time already around us? Are we ready? Are we prepared?