When I was young I used to collect comics. This was long before I could go to a comic shop and order specific titles and have them set aside for me. I would go to Waldenbooks, 7-11, and the Country Cupboard and see what issues they had. I didn’t keep track of when the last issue of a title came out or what day the next one was to arrive. I would go every few days and comb the racks looking for my favorites. Each new issue would excite me and I would be desperate to go home to devour the latest adventures of the X-Men. And 9 times out of 10, the issue would end in a cliffhanger and I’d be forced to wait four more weeks until the next issue would come out.
The funny thing is that I loved the wait. The wait brought on that excitement. I would sometimes reread the issue and imagine the next part of the story. I’d come up with my own solutions and then see how I did predicting the solution. Sometimes the story would end in a seemingly impossible scenario. I would throw up my hands and wonder how they would ever get out/save the world/protect their friends. As much as I loved reading the books and staring at the art, I internalized all of the surrounding emotions: the disappointment when a new issue wasn’t there, and the sheer elation when it was. The surprise at the dramatic picture on the cover and what it would tell us about the story inside. And then when it was read, the speculation, anticipation, expectant discovery that would come in a month’s time.
Years later, I learned to mark the time and know which books were to come out when. I would know to expect new issues of my favorite titles each Wednesday, and there was always a title to read. I could prepare myself for what was to come.
Every year at this time, I try to bring that same feeling to Advent. It is our season of expectation and anticipation. The beauty of the season comes in the shortening days and our adjusting to the weather. It comes in our preparing for Christmas and the rising spirit of joy. It comes in the lighting of candles and the quiet spaces we can sneak off to.
Over the next four weeks, as we wait, let us hold on to those feelings. Because what we are waiting for isn’t wrapped in paper or covered in tinsel, but joins us in humble service and is devoted to changing our world. We are preparing ourselves for GOD to walk among us. Get ready!