As a young parent, my Christmas tune recall has made room in my brain for an equally endless supply of nursery rhymes and Daniel Tiger jingles (a modern extension of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood). The rituals of the Christmas season are closely tied to the songs we hear faintly playing at the grocery store while we pass the candy canes and holiday ham display. At home, trimming the Christmas tree demands the listening to King’s College Christmas music. Setting out the Nativity means singing the chorus of “Away in a Manger”. Hearing Tchaikovsky makes us want to dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy. As songs are tied to rituals, rituals are tied to songs.
So when my children are fighting over a toy, or potty training, or struggling to follow directions I think, “Daniel Tiger has a song for that!” So, it’s fitting that every time my husband says “I can’t wait for Christmas this year!” or my girls say “I can’t wait to light the pink candle” on the Advent wreath, I think, “There’s a song for that!” “When you wait, you can play, sing or imagine anything.”
And, though my endearing jingle, it is often met with eye rolling or a “come on, Mom!”, it’s effective. It not only reminds them that waiting is hard but that waiting is necessary and waiting can be fun (or at least thought provoking).
This jingle may seem a little silly in the context of Advent. Words like play, sing, or imagine sound childish. The Church is serious about this “waiting thing”. Christ’s birth is actually a really big deal. The second coming of Christ is an equally big deal. We often feel like the playing and singing and imagining can happen for children but, as grown ups, we have mastered the whole “waiting thing”. We never have a mean word to say when sitting on hold with the credit card company or stuck in holiday traffic, right?
If you have not mastered waiting you are not alone. The lectionary readings this week continue to follow the stories of waiting throughout Scripture. In Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples that their waiting will be long and hard but it will be worth it. In Luke, we see Zechariah and Elizabeth at the end of their waiting and embarking on the next part of their journey. Revelation we hear from John. Though he was exiled to a remote island, God speaks to him and through him to the church.
I pray this season that your waiting will be fun (or, again, at least thought provoking). May your packed calendar of Christmas parties be playful preparation for God’s coming. May the songs you sing in worship, not only be sung because its written in the liturgy but because it is a way to pass through waiting together, imagine what is to come through the one WHO is to come. Waiting is hard whether you are 2 or 92 but we are called to try our best to wait faithfully.
Pray for your own sense of waiting. What are you waiting for in your life?
Pray for God’s Church. How can we play, sing, and imagine God’s Kingdom as we wait for Christ to come again.
Click here to read today’s daily Lectionary reading.