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Missing Baby Jesus and the Swollen Soul

“We are enlarged in the waiting…”
~Romans 8:24

Did you know there is candy in the check out aisle at Home Depot?
That’s right. Candy.

So, as we were checking out, my son asked if he could get some. When I told him “no,” he explained that paying for it shouldn’t be a problem, since he had his own money, and would be glad to buy it himself.
The answer was still no.

But when we got in the car, we had a good conversation about it. We talked about what happens (in the long run) if you constantly get everything you want, right when you want it. We talked about expectations, and discipline, and the power of waiting. We talked about the excitement that grows around birthdays and Christmas…and how they are exciting because they are rare occasions. They come once a year. He conceded that if Christmas happened every day, it probably wouldn’t be as exciting. (He’s a smart kid, but I could tell he still wanted the candy.)

Our culture is vexed by our inability to delay gratification.
We cannot stand waiting. For anything.
And it’s crippling us.
That is what Advent Hope is all about. It is about waiting, anticipating, longing for this thing that is coming; this Birth that will change everything and everyone, and
yet…

cannot…

be…

hurried.

That is why we don’t pull out the stops on the celebration of the birth too soon. During Advent, we deliberately wait. And while we do, we sing hymns of longing and anticipation like “Oh come, oh come Emmanuel,” and “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.” We light the candles of the Advent wreath and hear scripture, as a ritual that enables our whole congregation to lean together, in our waiting, into the direction of birth.

At a former church, our Youth Minister even had fun with it. He believed so deeply that we should wait for the celebration of Christmas, that he would go around to the various nativity sets that adorned the church, and steal all the baby Jesus figures from the mangers. He would hide newborn babe(s) in a safe but undisclosed location, until the true “time of his arrival had come.”

I think he was on to something. I think there is a powerful gift available to us in this Advent season of waiting. If we yield to it, we allow God to do something within us that can only happen in the waiting.

In the 8th chapter of Romans, Paul talks about the shaping power of waiting. Here is how Eugene Peterson translates the sacred text:

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. ~Romans 8:22-25

“We are enlarged in the waiting.”
Think about that for a minute, will you?
There is something that happens within you, when you wait, that simply cannot happen any other way.

When you wait…
anticipation grows,
patience grows,
prayer grows,
your capacity to “be still and know” grows.
In every way possible, waiting makes the soul, swell.

And the swollen soul, we call Hope.

God, help me today, to recognize (and believe) that your best is worth the wait.
Help me become aware & attentive to the power of your presence being born within. And help me learn to be ok with you taking your own…sweet…time.

Shaun King
Senior Pastor
Johns Creek Baptist Church

2 Comments. Leave new

  • I guess it’s no small wonder that patience is one of the fruits of the spirit. Waiting/being patient is difficult for most, but the old adage is certainly true….”good things come to those who wait”. Well, in the case of the birth of Jesus, it couldn’t be any more true. Now, for those of us who have come since the birth/death/resurrection, our “wait” is for the day we join him in Heaven. In the meantime, I pray I can get out of my own way and allow God to “enlarge me in the waiting”. Excellent post today, Pastor Shaun.

    Reply
  • I worked at a catholic hospital in Milwaukee, WI. Oddly enough, I had never worked anywhere before that openly celebrated Christi’s birth. Love those Catholics! Walking in every cold December morning I passed a beautiful and life sized manger scene. No baby Jesus! I didn’t like it! I went upstairs and complained to my coworkers that someone had taken Jesus. They calmed me and assured me He was coming. Everyday I walked by it and it remained empty. And then…Christmas morning at 6:45 I’m coming in and sure enough The baby was there. Swaddling cloth and all. I was filled with so much joy! That empty cradle had me longing to see the image of the Christ child. With a childlike excitement, I told all my coworkers that baby Jesus was in the building, starting with the security guard of course. My charge nurse shook her head and replied, “you knew he was coming?!” Why yes I did! Since that Christmas, my baby Jesus’s all wait at home, hidden in a drawer, as a reminder to me of a longing and a hope and a promise. Yeah, He’s coming!

    Reply

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