A late start...an early finish...
I suppose this phrase could apply to various events or situations. The calendar for Advent this year is what I have in mind— at least, that is how it feels. Whereas in many years, the weekend following Thanksgiving marks the beginning the new liturgical year and the season of Advent, in this particular year the fourth week of Advent will be literally one day— and that is Christmas Eve, December 24.
When it comes to the “appearance of things Christmas,” it is more typically an early start and an early finish (I was told that some children from the area saw Christmas trees inside houses when they went Trick-or-treating— to quote Charlie Brown: AAUGH!). No wonder that such households start to put away their decorations on December 27 (which is, for us, the “Second Day of Christmas”).
We have all likely heard the expression, “marching to the beat of a different drummer.” In some ways, many Catholics may increasingly experience a sense of marching in a completely different ensemble...or on some days, feeling like we are marching alone. When you think about it, ancient Christians likely felt extremely “alternative” in imperial Rome. We can take heart in remembering that the Caesars didn’t endure. The God whose coming we “await” each Advent is Eternally enduring!
D. Todd Williamson, a contributor to Loyola Press’ online site, offers the following on the theme of waiting:
1) You’re standing in line at the post office or the grocery store, waiting for your turn. You’re tapping your foot and keep looking at your watch. You don’t want to be in this line. Before long, you begin to think, “Oh, I can’t wait for this to be over!” Often times, the other people in line with you feel the same way! No one speaks to anyone else. Clearly few are enjoying the experience; the impatience or irritability you feel might even be visible on your face. Such an experience of waiting in line can seem isolating, almost lonely.
2) Now think about the times when you waited in line at an amusement park, to buy tickets to see your favorite baseball team, or to hear your favorite band. In these instances, the waiting is much different. People are excited and you might even be talking to some of them about the ride you’re getting ready to experience, the sports team that you love, or the band you’re about to hear.
This second example is the kind of waiting we are called to in Advent. At Mass, after praying the Lord’s Prayer, we hear “. . . as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” prayer reminds us that during Advent, we wait in joy, in hope, and in anticipation for the wonderful event we are about to experience—the feast of Christmas, the coming of Christ into our lives in new ways, the return of Christ in glory at the end of time. The waiting... is full of the hope that God promises us as we prepare for Christ in the feast of Christmas.