At our church’s altar sits the Nativity set. A collection of sheep, camels, cows, and a donkey, as well as Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, and a Shepherd. Each have a part in telling the story about Jesus’ birth.
There is one element to the Nativity that is not there … yet. That is the Baby Jesus. His arrival to the Nativity set is a few days away (Dec. 24 to be exact). Many of us, myself included, want to go ahead and put Jesus there in his place at the Nativity, but we cannot. Not yet at least.
There is a reason for this. Jesus’ present absence from the Nativity set teaches us something about this season of Advent and how we are to live today. It is a reminder that we are living in anticipation of the One who came to save.
Advent reminds us in a culture “I want it all now,” that there is value in waiting. In the waiting periods of life we are often molded and prepared for the next chapter or challenge that will come our way.
The same is true for Advent. It calls us to wait and get ready for Jesus to come and to come again. We cannot rush that. Advent is a counter-cultural reminder that we are to slow down and allow the joy of Christmas to truly change us. Every moment of Advent is an opportunity to prepare and, as well, to experience the excitement and anticipation of Jesus’ birth and arrival.
We would miss a lot if we just rushed to Christmas and not lived in this waiting moment. So, we’ll wait for a few more weeks for Jesus to arrive at our Nativity set. Until then, may we all experience this time as a chance for renewal and growth in our relationship with the Lord.