Advent: Waiting for the Giver

Last week I enjoyed the splendor of one of America’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Growing up, on Thanksgiving morning we would watch it and see the huge balloons, floats, bands, and celebrities march through the streets of New York City. It was a part of the ritual of Thanksgiving day. Last Thursday was a special moment to be able to actually watch the parade in real life.

As we watched the parade roll by I began to hear a common refrain from my children. “I’m cold. Is it over, can we go yet?” Yes, it was cold. Yes it was a long parade, but I didn’t want my kids to miss anything. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our family. As they watched and sometimes let out a little cry I realized there was a major incentive to keep them there; Santa.

My kids love to see Santa. We aren’t a “Santa is the reason for Christmas” family but we do allow them to have fun and enjoy the mystery of a dude who brings gifts from the North Pole at Christmas time. We teach our kids about the real St. Nick (you know the one who loved Jesus, was a pastor, served the poor, and beat up a heretic). But we have fun with it too. Seeing Santa is just fun.

Every time that I mentioned to our kids that we were waiting for Santa to show up at the parade they quieted down, quit their whining, and enjoyed what was in front of them. They knew the coming of Santa was the end of the parade and that they could endure the cold and enjoy whatever was in front of them while they waited. So they waited it out. And we had a blast.

As I’ve been thinking through this month and season of Advent I’m eager to get to the end as well. The month of waiting in front of me through difficult circumstances is not something I’m looking forward to. I want to get to the end of it, flop on my couch (wherever it will end up), and enjoy the world in front of me. But for this season I have to wait. And this is a completely Christian posture. We must wait.

Romans 8 tells us that we are waiting:

We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” (Romans 8:23, NLT)

We wait for our redemption. We wait for our adoption. But more than anything we wait for Christ. The parade the other day becomes a parable of Advent for me. It’s not just that I’m waiting for a new job, a home, a glorified body, or heaven. I’m waiting for Christ. Moving through this month of waiting then must become for me a season of expectation no so much of God’s gifts, but of Christ himself. I need to be waiting for Christ.

My prayer for this next month is that as I wait, and endure, and walk through this strange month I would enjoy the things that God places before me. And as I wait I pray that I would become more and more eager to see Christ. The parade may have ended with Santa, but our lives begin when we see Christ. This month of Advent I am waiting for Christ. May he come and display his glory well for me to see.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6–9, ESV)