Patience is a virtue: it is a primary component of love and a primary ingredient in the fruit of the Spirit. Patience is also hard, especially for young ones waiting for Christmas. As I look back, I wonder if our anticipation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth wasn’t heightened by the pre-Christmas activities in our home. Two of these marked the approach of Christmas every year.
Beginning with the fourth Sunday prior to the Nativity, each day of our Advent season was marked with special devotions. My very creative mom came up with an ingenious and different Calendar every year. Hidden behind doors on a poster, in Christmas wrapped match boxes, or aligned with felt images that over the course of the four weeks when added on to the others recreated the Christmas story were Bible verses chosen to prepare us for Christmas Day. The devotions were accompanied by the lighting of an Advent candle, one of the four in the Advent wreath that graced the center of our dining room table.
I am not sure when during the calendar year the planning and rehearsals for the annual Christmas pageant began; but given the complexity of the pageants, preparations had to have begun well before the Advent season arrived. During my early elementary years, the pageant was held in a standing room only assembly hall at the elementary school. The kids and young adults in the congregation played the parts of the Holy family, shepherds, angels, and wise men. Elaborate costumes and the story told with slightly different twists each year brought the message of a savior come to us to our little country town.
It really is not surprising, then, that waiting for the arrival of the actual day was hard. As we children waited with great anticipation, we all are waiting for an ever greater day. The Lord will keep His promise, and the Day of the Lord will come. On that day He Himself will return to earth to take to heaven those who are his own. It may seem, at times, that He is taking an awfully long time to fulfill that promise. We are reminded, however, that there is a purpose for His delay. He is a loving and gracious God and does not desire that anyone die separated from Him and thus destined to eternal separation. Instead He trust that we will be patient, and that while we wait we will “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”