Why are we Waiting?

Weekly Advent Reflection, Sunday, December 16, 2018

By: Sean O’Hara

One of the earliest holiday traditions with my family growing up was going out and looking at the Christmas lights. We would all pile into our station wagon and ride through our small town. Street after street we looked at the homes all decorated for Christmas. Back then, candles in windows and some strategically placed twinkle lights were the things of “oohs and ahhs”.

This is a tradition that I have tried to keep alive today with my two boys. However, I have found this to be quite an evening. Traffic jams and buses trying to maneuver small cul-du-sacs are commonplace. Mere candles and twinkle lights don’t even warrant a mention today. Dozens of lighted displays and inflatable creatures, along with personalized radio stations that synchronize music along with the lights are needed to even slow the car down.

The other evening, I got my boys into the car. After driving through our usual neighborhoods, we headed for home. As we went through a less decorated neighborhood, my oldest son finally noticed the candles in the windows and how pretty they were. I saw a window of opportunity and asked him why he thought houses had candles in their windows. He wasn’t sure, so I took this chance to bring Sunday school into our evening drive.

I said that throughout history, families lit candles and put them in their windows while they were waiting for someone to come home. “Waiting for Santa?” was the immediate response. I then asked who else we were waiting for in Advent. Quickly he said, “Jesus.” Again, not one to let this breakthrough go, I further prompted a discussion of the Advent wreath he and his brother made two weeks ago and the “waiting” that occurs during this season. That was about as far as this conversation went, as we pulled into our driveway.

As I have gotten older, Advent has gained more meaning to me. In my youth, Advent just meant more candles to light as an Acolyte and going to church at 11 p.m. Advent was full of stories that I understood and told of the birth of Jesus. Now, it has turned into a true season of reflection. I have embraced the “waiting” and the time the season has given to me to think about what is to come and what the past year has brought. With a new church year, comes new thoughts, commitments, and hope.