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Before Halloween–that’s when I first heard it.
“Jingle Bell Rock”
and “White Christmas”
and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
and even “O Holy Night” and a few others that talk about the Savior we wait for.
Jesus was on the radio!
That music coming out of the radio
even before I’d bought the bags of candy,
even before we raked our leaves,
even before I was ready!
That music was on the radio–and I said, “Wait, why are we doing this now?”
But even though I said, “wait!”
I have to confess: I don’t wait well.
I never have.
I remember being told: “Mary, quit asking”
and “Mary, be patient.”
I don’t wait well.
I never have.
I’m as anxious for the cozy, hot cocoa, wrapped in a blanket feeling that comes when those songs come on the radio.
But God’s saying, “It’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas yet.”
When did we start celebrating Christmas in early October?
When did we forget about this time before–this Advent time?
When did we decide that we were ready to receive the greatest gift that God can give?
When did we decide that we didn’t need to spend time waiting, getting ready, cleaning house, shaping up?
And I don’t mean the insides and outsides of our homes.  It’s about our hearts.
Before Jesus came on the scene, the people were waiting.
For 4,000 years they were waiting.
I don’t wait well. I never have.
My time is too precious.
I don’t like waiting in lines.
I don’t like being put on hold.
I don’t like busy signals.
I don’t like slow drivers.
I don’t like red lights and heavy traffic.
Nine months was a long time to wait when I was pregnant.
But is my time so much more precious than those who waited so long ago?
Why shouldn’t I have to wait?
God does something in the waiting:
“Slow down and listen to me.
Seek me.
Look for me.
Focus on me.
Help me help you.
And maybe you’ll find me if you wait.
Wait. Watch. Listen.
You can keep on going like you are or clean up your act.
Live like I matter to you.
Live like the One I sent to you is really a gift to receive
not something you’re entitled to because you pray or sing
or worship.
He is the One I sent to you as a gift
the One who shows you that my grace is enough
it’s all that you need.”
I don’t wait well. I never have.
Maybe waiting is the real gift
because in waiting, all I can do is wait.
And if I wait, maybe I will stop.
And think.
And listen.
And wonder.
And hope.
Because God waits, too
always waits for me to receive the gift again
when I sing those songs about a Savior
who has come to set the world right one soul at a time.

Pastor Mary Ivanov
Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main, Cedar Springs

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