"In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together.”
There was a crisis in the Yuen household this week - something that caused serious frustration and disrupted all of our normal rhythms and routines. I use the world “crisis” sort of tongue-and-cheek, but kind of not. Here’s the situation: the WiFi in our house was down ... down not just for a few hours, but down for 10 days! As a family with two “digital native” teenagers (who were off from school for Thanksgiving week), someone who depends on the internet for her work (Penny), and someone who likes live sports updates (me), this was a real first-world crisis. With the WiFi disabled, we were rationing the high-speed data on our phones like we were rationing bread. And the hardest part was not knowing when the internet company was going to fix the problem, as our service kept getting delayed. We were waiting - and not very patiently - for a technician to come and restore our broken system. Ten days later, when the technician finally did come and restore our WiFi, there was much rejoicing in the Yuen house! It was like an early Christmas present to us all.
We are not good at waiting. In our technological society, we are accustomed to instant messages, real time news, and not having to wait longer than two days for Amazon deliveries. Ten days without WiFi stretched our family and revealed how dependent we are on internet access. Maybe God was trying to get our attention ...
Ready or not, the season of “waiting” called Advent is here. Amidst our inner compulsions and external dependencies, there is wisdom in the centuries-old practice of taking four weeks to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD.” Can you think of dry and uncultivated places in our world and in our lives? The season of Advent is a time of preparation for the glory of the LORD to be revealed.
Where did Advent come from? While no one knows the exact day of Jesus’ birth, Christians in the fourth century chose December 25 as the date to celebrate the birth of Christ. This date was chosen specifically to counter the pagan feast of the “sun god,” a popular Roman winter solstice festival. Following Old Testament feasts and festivals, the “Feast of the Nativity” was established and began with a special Mass in honor of Jesus’ coming. “Christ’s Mass” eventually became known as “Christmas.” The four-weeks before December 25 - called Advent (“to come”) - was later declared a holy season, also in keeping with the Old Testament festivals as a time of preparation. Recognizing the significance of God coming in the flesh, Advent is designed to give Christians space to prayerfully prepare for the coming of the King.
Ironically, the month before Christmas can be the most frenzied and distracting time of year for many of us. What’s on your “to-do” list this month? Gifts to find, cards to write, celebrations to attend … all these things, done in the right spirit, have the potential to prepare us for the King. They also have the potential to misdirect our attention. Let’s do as Isaiah says and intentionally prepare the way for the LORD together.
The Advent Conspiracy provides a helpful framework for preparation: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. This is a different kind of “to-do” list. Be like the Magi from the East and search diligently for the King that you may worship Him with all your heart. Redirect some of your dollars to support those making the King’s vision for peace and justice a reality in our local and global community (for more information on ministries our church is supporting this year, see page 10). Love all those you meet with the reckless, fierce, and undiscriminating love that God revealed to us in Jesus.
Our family waited ten days for our WiFi to be restored. How much more do we wait for, yearn for, and participate in the restoration of our world? These Advent practices can tangibly help us prepare for the coming of the LORD. As we practice these things together, “the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together.” Blessings to you and yours this Advent season.