As a child I remember that the most difficult part of Christmas was simply waiting for it to come. I really enjoyed the last few weeks of school, after exams had been completed and reports given out it was time for some serious fun at school, with concerts and parties and speech days or nights.
Then came the school holidays and the waiting became almost painful as mysterious packages were placed under the Christmas tree and preparations were made for our Christmas feasting.
Days felt like weeks and weeks felt like forever. Time truly stood still! Oh how I long for
those days now!
But seriously, waiting is foreign to our society. It seems unnatural. We hunger for immediate gratification. The idea of delayed satisfaction is a stranger to our thinking.
The symbols of our unwillingness to wait are all around us. Fast food outlets boom because we don’t have time to cook. We stand in crooked lines, then give our order, get it down in five minutes and then get back to the rat race. We haven’t got time to sit down and read a book anymore. In kitchens all over Australia there are gadgets to get the meal prepared quickly. When we become sick we want to be made well now, not later. Medicine, doctors, pastoral care and love are often rejected if they are not swift.
I, like you, accept most of our no — wait approach to life, with the exception of instant mashed potatoes, which are almost intolerable. But the truth is that, though we do not like waiting, waiting is a part of living. We must wait for payday, a break, home time, and the check out queue and the mailman. When you do your Christmas shopping, you had certainly better be prepared to wait in a line to get checked out, wait to get a parking place, and wait through at least four red lights on your way home.
But there are also very serious matters for which we wait. Some wait for health to return, some for marriage or remarriage. We pray for peace but must wait for its arrival. A scared child waits for the coming of morning, and a scared adult awaits death. And an expectant mother waits for delivery. Waiting can be pure agony. But over and over scripture tells us that God’s clock is wound in a different way… Let us pray that our impatience doesn’t blind us to the wonder of the present and the realisation that, however things might appear, God continues to hold the world in loving compassionate hands. And in the words of Julian of Norwich – All will be well and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.