I have never been a very patient person. My mother used to rattle off a little jingle for me: “Patience is a virtue, much to be desired.” Always the aspiring poet, I would say under my breath: “But if you wait long enough, you’ll surely get tired.” When I was a child, I needed Advent. The activities of the Advent wreath and children’s Advent games may have helped me to make it to Christmas in better shape. Waiting for Christmas generally drove me nuts, the night before Christmas in particular. I placed myself in charge of the Christmas morning wake up crew and everyone in the house would be up by 2:30 a.m. at the latest. Actually, one of my sisters was a willing participant in my wake up efforts. Between her coughing and my flushing the toilet, the dead would arise!
Thus, Advent has been an important part of my spiritual formation. A person imbued with an Advent faith not only trusts in God but waits in hope for the coming of our Lord. The prophet Isaiah preached this type of faith. When is God going to do something about our bondage as a nation? His answer: “But a very little while.” And when he acts, amazing things happen: the deaf hear, the blind see, the lowly find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice. The tyrant, the arrogant, those who “are alert to do evil,” and all the rest who terrorize God’s people will be no more. The Holy One of Israel will act on behalf of his people and Jacob’s bondage will be gone forever.
The psalmist joins with his own Advent refrain: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Whom should I fear? Of whom should I be afraid? The psalmist only wants one thing for Christmas: to dwell in God’s house and gaze on the Lord’s loveliness all the days of his life. Ahh, but it is Advent. The time is not yet. So how does one live between Ordinary time and Christmas? “I believe.” Credo. “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living.” The psalmist’s admonition? “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”
The Gospel lesson might as well be labeled “A Christmas Story.” What do you want for Christmas? Two blind men ask Jesus for pity, for mercy. They want to see. As a child I always had faith that what I asked for would end up under the Christmas tree. But healing a person of their blindness? Isaiah said that this day would come but Jesus needed to know if the men truly believed that he could heal them. They said they believed him and he healed them. He then asked them to let their belief become trust when he sternly warned them not to tell anyone what he had done. How many Christmas gift givers have been treated the same way as these men treated Jesus? “But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.”
Patience is a virtue, much to be desired. I need Advent because I need patience. I need to learn how to wait. I need to learn how to trust Jesus.
I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.
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