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I am not a good waiter. I am not talking about being employed as a server in a restaurant. Although I know that is a hard job and I have never tried it, I know I would not be good at it. No, I am not a good wait-er.

I have a hard time standing in line to purchase tickets to an event or to enter a facility. Sitting at red traffic lights or creeping along at a snail’s pace in traffic makes me crazy. It has been said that I will drive 20 minutes out of the way just to keep moving. I guess you could say that I lack patience.

I want things to happen when they are supposed to happen. Don’t delay the start of an event or a meeting because others are still on their way. Begin at the scheduled time. Get on with it. Don’t make me wait.

Because of my impatience, I need some imposed discipline. Some structure that requires me to stop and take time.

This time of the year is a challenge. Once Thanksgiving Day has passed I am ready to get on to Christmas Day. But the Christian season of Advent makes me wait and that is a good thing regardless of how hard it is.

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Advent is the period preceding the Christmas season. It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and covers four Sundays. In 2016 Advent began on November 27.

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The word advent, from Latin, means “the coming.” As the Christmas season has become more secular, with advertisers urging holiday gift-givers to buy and buy some more, Advent still focuses more on the observance of ancient customs. Christian families find quiet moments lighting candles in the Advent wreath, and children use Advent calendars to count the days until Christmas.

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I heard a radio commercial that stated, “Christmas brings to mind Santa Claus, Polar Bears, and Coke.” The Christian observance of Advent counters that perspective and focuses our thoughts to the real meaning of Christmas- the birth of the Christ Child and the promised return of the Messiah.

It is unknown when the period of preparation for Christmas that is now called Advent first began but it was certainly in existence from the late part of the 5th Century. Originally, it was a time when converts to Christianity readied themselves for baptism. Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season of Lent when Christians devoted themselves to prayer and fasting.

By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world.

So for the last 1600 years Orthodox Christianity has observed a four week period of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas. We wait, as difficult as that might be, in anticipation for the coming of the Messiah who came first as the Baby of Bethlehem and will one day come again as the Victorious Lord of Life.

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As we joyfully await the coming of Christ let us pray for the needs of the church and the world. As we anticipate His coming, let us be faithful in all aspects of our lives doing those things that will show that we have turned from our sins and are following Christ.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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