Commentary, Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary: Waiting Isn’t so Bad After All

By Pastor David Kirkland of Dulin Church

Let’s face it. We don’t like to wait. With the advent of COVID, we endured  having to wait. We waited for vaccines, for items missing from store shelves, going back to the office, for appointments to doctors and surgeries in hospitals, and returning to places of worship while having to opt for zoom, virtual and  live streaming. We don’t like to wait. 

I am reminded of a ketchup commercial in 1979. It was about how some  ketchups are thin and just come out of the bottle. There is a picture of a ketchup  bottle, with the ketchup slowly, about to come out of the bottle. The song  “Anticipation” starts. “Anticipation. Anticipation. It’s making me wait.” 

Christians endured 28 days of waiting this year before Christmas arrived. We call this period of waiting, ADVENT. Advent simply means the arrival of an  important person, thing or event. Advent is the time for Christians to prepare for  Christ’s birth in Bethlehem long ago as well as prepare for Christ’s return. And we  don’t like to wait. We want to sing Christmas carols in late November rather than  agonize with Advent carols that no one knows. We would rather hear the nativity  story in early December rather than the shocking “in your face” message of the  prophets. I like to think of Advent as ANTICIPATION, actively waiting for the birth of  Jesus and his coming again. Christmas is almost here! 

Many churches use what is called an Advent wreath, a circular wreath of  evergreens surrounded by four blue candles (blue is the color for HOPE) each  given a name and lit progressively, Sunday by Sunday representing hope, peace,  joy, and love. A white Christ candle in the middle is lit on Christmas Eve and  Christmas Day. These candles represent God’s actions in our world and lives. 

HOPE: Christians hope that God will fulfill the prophecies of Old Testament  prophets about Jesus born in Bethlehem and for Jesus’ return or second coming. We put our trust in God. Hope waits and endures. Let each of us have HOPE. HOPE for the end of COVID that has affected our lives in different ways. HOPE  that our political system endures. HOPE that our economy remains stable with  the many challenges it faces.  

PEACE: shalom- a gesture of greeting and parting in love and reconciliation.  We are at peace in our relationship with God and neighbor. Our lives are filled  with worry and anxiety, especially during the holiday season. We hear daily the  news about war and its impact on people’s lives, especially in Ukraine. Acts of  violence permeate our lives. We pray for peace. 

JOY: Christians are joyful as we hear the words of Mary, “My soul magnifies  the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” We are joyful at the birth of  Jesus. During the holiday season, we enjoy lights, songs, and decorations. We  have gatherings of family and friends full of food, stories, laughter, and cheer.  

LOVE: Advent reminds us that we are loved by God and we are called to  follow Jesus’ core commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart  and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” and to  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Think of the areas in our lives where we need to  express love to the stranger, the lost, the isolated, the unloved. 

THE CHRIST CANDLE: Finally, the waiting is over. We celebrate “Christ is  born.” Christ is the light that shines in the darkness.  

All of us are waiting with ANTICIPATION for the beginning of 2023. This gives us  the opportunity for optimism, perseverance, and planning. The Falls Church  Watch Night is a wonderful way to welcome the new year! Many of us will create  resolutions to make our lives better such as losing weight, more exercise, eating  healthier, and seeking to change bad habits/behaviors. Talk about HOPE! 

There will always be waiting in our lives. We find ourselves waiting at traffic  lights. Be glad traffic lights are there to protect us. We find ourselves with longer  wait times at doctor appointments. Be joyful we have medical care. We find  ourselves waiting to be seated and served at restaurants. Be thankful we have  money to order a meal and are not hungry. We find ourselves waiting due to  supply chain issues. Be happy there are people working the best they can to  bring goods to store shelves. We wait for election results. It’s part of living in a  democracy. 

Let’s be hopeful! Let’s be joyful! Let’s be peaceful! Let’s be loving! It will  make our world a much better and safer place to live…for all of us.  You know, maybe waiting isn’t so bad after all! 

May God bless each of us this holiday (holy day) season and New Year!