I am generally not an impatient person. But there are some things…
Like when I’m behind another car in the right turn on Rodney Parham at Cantrell. If you don’t know that intersection, the right turn lane leads to a protected merge lane. If you keep going straight, you will proceed onto southbound I-430. Or you can merge left and continue on Cantrell.
As often as not, I will find myself behind a driver who doesn’t seem to realize that the right turn lane is a merge lane. They stop and wait for the cars in the left lane to pass before they proceed. I find myself talking to these people sometimes, although they can’t hear me. It’s good that they can’t hear me. I don’t sound very pastor like in those moments.
I can also not be a very pastor like when I’m in an airport, proceeding from one gate to another. I don’t understand people who are shuffling their feet as they meander through the terminal. And for the life of me, the able-bodied people who are standing still on the moving walkways? Really?
There are times at work when I find myself in a zone where I’m focused on trying to complete a task. In those moments, I’m not always – what’s the word? Oh yes – I’m not always kind to those who find themselves between me and the completion of my task.
In other words, I’m a mostly patient person. Except when I’m not.
Maybe you can relate.
We’re a culture that promotes impatience. The folks at Amazon are experimenting with drones to try to speed up their standard two-day delivery process. The grocery store has express lines and self serve kiosks so we don’t have to wait behind a shopper with a bunch of groceries. If it takes us longer than two minutes to get our fast food order, we think something’s wrong. Once upon a time, if you wanted to watch a recently released movie, you had to go to a video store and hope they had a copy still in stock. Today, your movie is available “on demand.”
We want what we want when we want it. And we’ve been trained to think that’s the way life is supposed to work for us.
The Advent season is our annual exercise in slowing down and re-learning how to wait and to be patient. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 4 that God sent His Son “in the fullness of time.” It was, as Eugene Peterson put it, the time that had been set by God the Father. God’s people had waited for generations. More than once they had cried out and asked: “how long, O Lord?” Many had grown weary of waiting and had given up on the promise.
But God’s timing is perfect. And so at just the right time, the Deliverer was born. The Word became flesh. The angels made the announcement. The shepherds left their post (and their sheep) and came to see the baby. Magi from the east followed a star. An old man in the temple courtyard who had been waiting his whole life for the promised Messiah to be born took one look at the baby and said “now I can die in peace. For my eyes have seen God’s salvation.”
Like most children, when I was growing up, I couldn’t wait for Christmas to arrive. The days leading up to Christmas morning dragged. I was laser-focused on that coming day, and as far as I was concerned, it couldn’t come soon enough. I wasn’t very good at waiting. On at least one occasion, I looked under my parent’s bed and found quickly that a failure to wait patiently can rob the coming day of some of its joy.
In our hurry-up world, the Advent season is our annual reminder that it’s good for us to learn to wait. God is with us in the waiting. There are things we learn about Him – and about ourselves – as we wait that we would never learn in the express lane.
So take a deep breath. Relax. Slow down. Enjoy the season. Embrace the waiting in your life. God’s purposes are being accomplished while we wait.
If you haven’t picked any kid’s names from the Christmas tree at church yet, this is the Sunday to make sure you take a few homes with you. And plan to bring your shoebox gift on Sunday, December 15 so we can deliver them to the kids at David O Dodd Elementary School before they head home from school for Christmas break.
And be sure to take a little time to write a brief personal note that you can include in each shoebox. Here’s an example of what you might write:
“We hope you have a happy and joy-filled Christmas. What makes this season so special is what we celebrate – the birth of Jesus! He is God’s greatest gift to us. He came to give us new life and to forgive us for the bad things we have done. We are praying that you and your family will know and experience God’s love for you this Christmas.”
Together with your note, we plan to include an invitation for the students and their families to join us at our Christmas Eve service.
Here one more time is the details:
Each ornament you select will provide you with the following information about the child you’ll be preparing your shoebox for. You’ll attach the upper portion of the label to the shoebox so we know the age of the child your gift should be given to:
We have a few special events happening over the next couple of weeks.
First, there’s the pajama and pizza party for kids Thursday night. All kids, birth through 5th grade are invited, along with friends and family.
One special note. Please have your child bring a wrapped book that is appropriate for young readers or preschoolers – a book that a boy or a girl would enjoy. Every child will have a new book to take home.
Any questions, contact Mrs. Jen at email@example.com.
Older kids have their own event to look forward to this Sunday night.
And ladies, there’s a special time set aside for you as well.
Finally, all of us will gather on Christmas Eve to sing and pray and celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas Eve service is the perfect opportunity to invite friends and family members to join you at church.
Jesus’ brief conversation with the woman at the well in Sychar covered a lot of very interesting ground before it came to a remarkable conclusion. We’ll explore more of their dialogue as we continue to look at John 4 this week.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!