Getting Ready to Wait

Read: Luke 2:25-35

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah (Luke 2:25-26, NRSV).

It was the L’Occitane ad that put me over the edge. For only $80, the ad extolled, I could order their “Classic Advent Calendar” and “unbox 24 days of delights”—i.e.—their most popular skin-care products. And for $140 I could get the premium version, which would allow me to “indulge in our most luxurious gifts, from nourishing shea to powerful anti-aging” products.

I could use their anti-aging serum as much as the next person, but I’m not buying their attempt to coopt Advent for commercial gain. Neither am I content to capitulate to our culture’s impatience, treating the whole month of December (and even November) as one big Christmas extravaganza.

Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to the story of Simeon. He’d been waiting his whole life—and his people had been waiting for centuries. Yet, when he saw the Christ child, he knew that the wait had been worth it. Taking the baby into his arms, he poured out all his pent-up praise, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word: for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

It’s also why I’ve decided to use this space to share an Advent Calendar. Consider it as my small act of protest. It’s a bit different from my usual offerings, but I’m hoping it will help people of all ages join in a countdown to a less commercial Christmas.

The series will start next week, so if you want to buy a special calendar, feel free. (Although it’s not necessary, and I would certainly steer clear of the “premium” versions!) It will feature two stories—one from the Old Testament and one from the New. We’ll begin with the story of Moses in Exodus 1-3 and then move on to Luke’s version of the Christmas story in Luke 2. I’ve decided to try out the new updated edition of the NRSV (NRSVue), hoping that it will make the stories more accessible for all ages. As difficult as it is for me, I have refrained from commenting on the stories themselves, although I do include one or two questions for people of all ages to “ponder.”

Since Advent begins on Sunday, November 27, look for the first week’s readings to show up in your inbox (or on Facebook) on Saturday, November 26. Until then, let’s get ready to wait!

Ponder: Did you grow up with Advent? How does it help us to wait? How does the secular, commercialized version of it undercut that?

Pray: Teach us to wait, faithful God, and to trust in your love for us.