The Thessalonians (and centuries later, we) are told: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of the prophets, but test everything…” (1 Thessalonians 5)
Advent, we are told, is about waiting. Waiting, though, expectantly. Looking forward, not holding back. We are preparing for something wonderful.
When did waiting become a chore? When did looking forward turn into holding back? When did preparing for something wonderful begin to shoulder the wonderful out of the here and now?
Alright, so maybe it’s not that bad. But how often do we remember while we wait for the joy of Christmas to take joy in the waiting, in the preparations? To rejoice in freshly-focused prayers, to rejuvenate our prayer-without-ceasing live. To rejoice in the extra opportunities to thank people – sales clerks, restaurant servers, patient people in line, who cluck at our babies and make them smile for a moment. To rejoice in the opportunities to act prophetically, choosing wisely the gifts that reflect not only our love for the recipient but our love for the people who create the opportunity to give – buying or making handmade treasures, giving ourselves, our time, our attention. How often do we remember to be thankful for the seasonal nudge to make that phone call, that visit, write that card or letter that connects us to a part of our lives we might otherwise slowly and silently lose?
Advent might be a time for reflection, for patient expectation, for candlelight in the darkening winter evenings … but it is no time to hold back.
“Do not despise the words of the prophets, but test everything …”
Today, the prophet says, “bring good news to the oppressed, … bind up the broken-hearted, … proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;… give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit” (Isaiah 61)
How about we test that out while we’re waiting? Try everything. Don’t hold back, but rejoice – always!