Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Member, Cathedral of Hope
But when the right time came, the time God decided on, he sent his Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew. Galatians 4:4 The Living Bible
I am not a patient person. Especially around Christmas. I think it goes back to my childhood. I am a December baby. In one of the earliest pictures of me I am just past the age of 1 sitting in front of, you guessed it, a Christmas tree. You can imagine what Christmas was like in our house of 4 boys with less than 4 years separating the oldest from the youngest. It was a riot. It is still our family tradition, started when we were young, to exchange our gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas morning. My mother always said it was because she didn’t want to put up with 4 impatient rambunctious toddlers clamoring and tearing the house apart in anticipation of tearing into packages.
And so, even as an adult, events seldom move fast enough for me. And when I become impatient I become anxious and irritable. Not a nice person to be around. Even at Christmas.
But Advent is all about patience. I am beginning to understand that God is using Advent to teach me to slow down and to think about God’s timeline. I might wish to hurry the birth of Christ, to rush to open the presents. But Advent shows us that events unfold as they are meant to and in their own time.
When lighting the candle on Gaudete Sunday the liturgy reads in part “We pray that our waiting for Christmas will show us how to be patient when things take time, how to live for Christ day by day, . . .” It is a lesson of Advent to set aside anxiety, restlessness and impatience as we wait peacefully, calmly and with confidence for the promised gift of God.
This lesson has become real to me as I serve on the Pastoral Search Committee. We are at a critical stage as we review the profiles that continue to arrive from pastors who feel called to serve with our congregation. I am tempted to rush through this stage and call our new pastor. But I am learning how important it is for our future to spend the time reading the 18 -22 pages of background submitted by each person, watching or listening to hours of sermons, and reading the pages of articles or blogs they write. And even as we begin interviewing we are still receiving profiles and reaching out to potential candidates. All this preparation, no matter how long it takes, is essential. I am certain the congregation does not want us to rush such an important decision.
Even so, like a child on Christmas morning, I want to rip the packages open. Yet, God is teaching me to be patient and to live into God’s timeline. It is not easy. God has given us the responsibility to act, to move, to push the process. So, the Committee meets every week and each member spends hours between meetings doing the necessary tasks. And God also asks us to remain calm, thoughtful and patient. To not be so busy, so rushed getting things done that we miss God’s voice.
In the hustle, bustle and frayed nerves of this season, I encourage us to slow down, learn patience, live into God’s timeline. Christmas morning will come when the time is right, God’s gift will be shared when we are ready. Until then, enjoy the excitement of preparation and anticipation.
Dear God of patience, remind me today that your timeline is not the same as mine. Help me to set aside my impatience so that I can live fully into all the surprising gifts you have waiting for me.
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