Please enjoy my Christmas Eve homily! Writing it was very therapeutic for me and I really felt God speaking through me. Blessings!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
December 24, 2013
Christmas Eve Homily – Teaching Us To Wait
Yesterday morning I was telling our office administrator that I hadn’t found inspiration for my Christmas Eve homily yet. I was hoping that something would inspire me thorough out the day, but nothing came.
So around 3:00 I just decided that inspiration would have to come at home later on that evening. I had errands to run and I did not want to be out late shopping. I grabbed my keys, got in my car and heading towards Seekonk. I was a woman on a mission with a list in her hand and nothing could stand in my way.
At some point during my ride over there, the gas gauge on my car started blinking. I have one of those gauges that blinks when your gas is low … and blinks really fast when your gas is really low. And by the time I realized the gauge was blinking, well, it was blinking really fast.
So there I was, on route 6 in Seekonk, sitting in completely stopped holiday traffic, in the pouring rain staring at my blinking gas gauge. I turned off my radio (thinking that would somehow help) and put the car in neutral. Out loud, I asked the little arrows on the traffic lights why they do not stay green longer. At one point I closed my eyes and started saying, “Our Father, who art in Heaven …”
But good news! I made it to the gas station. Phew! Because I was a woman on a mission with a list in her hand and nothing could stand in my way.
Then I got to the grocery store.
I suppose I should mention that I do not really handle the grocery store well on a normal day, so whatever possessed me to go the night before Christmas Eve, I will never know. But alas – there I was, standing in line at the deli counter of Stop & Shop with a basket full of food when my phone rang. It was Bruce – poor husband was wondering if I had actually made it to the gas station or if I was, indeed, stranded on route 6 in the pouring rain. As we were getting off the phone, he said, “Hey, can you do me a favor and grab a Christmas card while you’re out?”
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I nearly burst into tears. Perhaps the busyness of the pre-Christmas grocery hustle and bustle got to me, but a Christmas card was not on my list! I was a woman on a mission with a list in her hand and that list did not include a Christmas card.
Bruce heard my tone change and – bless his heart – immediately said, “Never mind, I have one at home!”
Well – sort of. The thought briefly crossed my mind that there was something wrong with the fact that I could not take an extra two minutes to walk to the other side of the store to pick up a Christmas card.
But the thought was fleeting.
So I checked out and went on my way.
Next stop? Michaels! My last stop of the night. I knew what I wanted and I knew where it was, so my plan was to get in and get out as quickly as possible so I could go home and start cooking. I was, after all, a woman on a mission with a list in her hand and nothing could stand in my way.
So I parked in front of Michaels, turned off my car and power walked to the store. Perhaps if I walked faster, I thought, I could get ahead of schedule! I marched right up to the door and nearly collided into it, because – as it turns out – the automatic sliding doors at Michaels open verrrrrrry slowly.
So I stood and waited while the doors slowwwwwly opened. I squeezed in sideways as soon as the door was open wide enough and then power walked forward.
For about five feet, of course, until I approached the second automatic sliding door to get into the Michaels, one that – I am sure you are all shocked to hear this – opened just as slowly as the other one.
At that point I actually stopped and laughed.
Because apparently after everything I have said and preached about this Advent season about slowing down and experiencing the season, it took slow moving automatic doors to actually slow me down.
I am sure many of you can relate.
Advent is a season of waiting. It is a season of literal waiting. With great anticipation, we wait! We wait for the birth of Jesus. We wait for Emmanuel – God with us – to come into our midst. We wait for Christmas morning. We wait for Santa Claus and Grandma’s cookies and big family parties and dad’s apple pie.
But in a way Advent is also a season of teaching us how to wait. Here is the thing about the society that we live in. We do not have to wait. Communication is instantaneous. Food is available in less than a minute through a drive through window. Photos are ready in an hour. Every new generation of phones and computers run faster than the last.
And yet, throughout the season of Advent, there is no choice but to wait. No matter how innovative technology is or how advanced the society we live in is, nothing can make Christmas come any faster – you have to wait.
It does not matter if you are a woman on a mission with a list in her hand or you are a young girl pregnant and traveling to Bethlehem – you have to wait.
Advent teaches us how to wait.
It is fitting that those of us that live in the northern hemisphere experience Advent in the dark of winter. We wait for Emmanuel while we wait for the winter solstice. We wait for the light of Christ to appear while we wait for longer days filled with light. We wait for the light to overcome the darkness like Isaiah prophesied so many years ago.
The waiting is over! But we will carry the lessons that we learned while waiting with us throughout our Christmas celebrations and into the new year.
Do not let go of those lessons.
Learning how to wait, learning how to experience God in the midst of waiting is one of the greatest gifts we are given year after year.
Tonight, as you hear the age-old Christmas story that you have probably heard hundreds of times before, let it be for you a reminder of the magic and beauty that comes to us after we wait.
God truly works in spectacular ways while we wait.
Of course I thought about this concept of slowing down and learning how to wait as I browsed Michaels; in fact, I practically had my sermon written by the time I was done shopping! And yet as soon as I checked out I promptly turned on my heel and power walked out of the store.
Until I got that slowly opening automatic sliding door.
Then I had to slow down.
Lucky for us, God’s grace redeems us when we have to learn the same lessons over and over again.
Peace to you on this Christmas Eve.
Thanks be to God!