We have talked before about how we are sometimes unable to see what actually is because we are expecting something else. Many of the most brilliant scholars of Jesus’ day simply could not get their heads around His reality. They knew how Messiah should come. They knew what Messiah would do. When Jesus came looking enough like Messiah to make them wonder, the ways that He was different than their expectations sealed their decision - He couldn’t possibly be the long awaited one.
Their de facto blindness also prohibited them from entering in to what they had in Him. While everyone else was rejoicing in the healing of sick people, or the raising of the dead, the experts were seething and plotting. They couldn’t even join the celebration of wholeness! How tragic is that?! But it begs the question of me. How much of Jesus do I miss because He is not what I expect Him to be?
Advent is a deliberate slowing down in order to take notice - to see what is really there. And to live in the appreciation of what is rather than in the disappointment of what isn’t. How many real treasures do I pass over because they aren’t the shiny plastic things I am looking for? Advent invites me to look at what is actually in my hand - to examine it to determine worth before discarding. Advent assumes there are things on the way worth investing myself in. And, of course, if I don’t invest myself in these things on the way, how will I recognize the true value of what comes when I get where I think I am going?
Arrival requires recognition. How ever will I recognize when I have arrived if I haven’t paid attention to the markers along the way? Arrival will become like so much of the rest of my life in which I look back and wonder what that was all about. I will never arrive anywhere because I am constantly on the rush to the next thing. Advent pushes me to notice - to tarry - to stop a while - to take still pictures - to engage in the moment. Only by doing so will I recognize arrival and be there for it.
Time is one of those things that simply flows along. We choose whether it will be empty or full. Jesus was born in the fullness of time. I want to recognize those kinds of moments. I don’t want to miss Him, expecting something else. I want to treasure every step of the journey to arrival.
And so, setting aside expectations, we wait with undemanding expectancy.