In the time that I have known what Advent was... and I have to be honest that it wasn't really until seminary days that I started keeping Advent... I have been a stickler about waiting. I like the build-up of the moment. I think that the liturgical seasons and the calendar create a sense of movement and energy and emotion that is captured in this quote by Frederick Buechner:
While we are always, and every moment waiting for the coming of Christ... we forget. We forget the longing. We forget the tension. Advent reminds us. It reminds us that time is of the essence. It reminds us to wake up and to be ready. It reminds us that any moment might be the moment.
But this year, I caved. I gave in. We are singing Christmas carols this Advent.
Advent for me has two tasks: to prepare us for the birth of Christ (which we celebrate as Christmas) and to prepare us for the second coming of Christ... the end/beginning of it all.
What I have found is that quite a few of our Christmas carols actually do allow us to take both of those things seriously. Sunday, we sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and really focused on the last verse:
cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.That longing for the Savior to come is the same today as it was in the days of Mary and Joseph. The child has been born and still we wait. And now that we have used that song in church... now that we have talked about waiting for THE hope of the world... perhaps when the song comes on the radio, or begins playing in the mall... the gears will shift just a little bit, the chaos will be jarred, the spirit will speak, and we will pause to wait.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmauel! (UMH #230)