How rich the waiting is
I am a last-minute wrapper, I admit. If I used glue, it would still be damp when the person was opening the gift. Christmas Eve has usually included a late candlelight service, followed by cocoa and cookies at home, and then a final wrapping session into the wee, small hours. In part, this is because I am a last- minute shopper. It’s hard to wrap gifts before Christmas Eve when I am still out purchasing on the morning of 24 December.
So when we went to the post office recently to mail gifts to family members who cannot be with us this year, I discovered something wonderful. Putting thoughtful time and effort and a period of anticipation into the act of giving adds something rich to the experience. It has always been rich to see the excitement on someone’s face as they open a gift. The “just-in-time” nature of the gifting has even added its own bit of frisson to the moment, to be honest. Phew – that one worked! But this enriches it even more.
It is refreshing to relax, knowing that the task part of the gifting has been completed. It is satisfying to reflect on the gift selection in relationship to the recipient. Because we write personalized gift tags, often with whimsical and “punny” messages, I am able to rehearse how I imagine those tags will be read. That gives me a moment to enjoy in the emotional presence of the other person. All of this I typically miss during the few hours of sleep that come between wrapping and opening. Now I have a better understanding of what a loss that is.
I wonder if it also helps us understand what joy God experiences in the gifts that come to us in creation and in faith. Genesis 1 tells us that God finished creating stuff on Day Six and took Day Seven to create rest. Did that make the dawn of the first day after creation all the more refreshing and satisfying for God? As we learn more and more about ecological systems and astrophysical relationships, the “fit” between creation and all of us who inhabit it grows more and more astonishing. With Jesus entering the world as an infant, growing to maturity, and undertaking a robust life journey, the gift of life from the cross and an empty tomb could not be more appropriate or full of meaning.
We wait during this Advent season, and the waiting itself can be a blessing. God waits, too, as the gifts “prepared from the foundation of the world” are in transit to fulfillment (Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4). A world waits with eager longing. May God deliver the promise once again and may we, who already enjoy the foretaste of its fulfillment, invest ourselves in making sure that it comes to all people and to the whole creation. Then the waiting, and the fulfillment, will be even richer.
-Peter A. Pettit, teaching pastor