Gifts already received

November 21, 2011

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Patience is not one of my virtues, as those closest to me
know. I want answers now, clarity now, unresolved issues settled now, anxiety
lifted now. Waiting "with patience" in our eschatological hope, as Paul directs us elsewhere, is not my strong suit.

My impatience is exacerbated by the pressures of time, and
few times are as frenetic as the start of Advent. The demands of decorating the
house and preparing Christmas Eve services, buying presents and attending
numerous special events, sending cards and making special visits to the
homebound...they become impossible. I feel desperately inadequate to do the basic
things expected of me, a feeling that in turn threatens to distract me from the
real point of the season.

The turnover between Thanksgiving and Advent is intense. But
I've found that the more fully I'm able to celebrate Thanksgiving's gratitude
for abundance, the more likely I am to focus clearly on the Christmas hope of
Christ's coming. So, although it's a fluke of our secular calendar, the
confluence of both holidays together is richer than either of them is on its

So maybe I shouldn't worry that the first Sunday of Advent
finds my home in a colossal mess, with Thanksgiving gourds and pumpkins still
sitting out while Christmas decorations are hauled up from the basement. One
wreath on the door comes down and another goes up; the orange and brown
tablecloth gets pulled off and the red and green one spread out. It looks
confused and chaotic. Maybe I should think of it this way instead: as a
reminder that I have already received every gift from God that I need, as I
wait for the revealing of the Lord Jesus Christ.