I dream of throwing actual Christmas parties during the Twelve Days of Christmas. If I ever have kids, we'll do very cool things for those twelve days and dedicate ourselves to a time of preparation for the Christ Child in Advent. (I also have visions of taking children to volunteer at a women's shelter every Wednesday and, when asked why, they joyously proclaim, "On Wednesdays, we fight the patriarchy!" I'm aware I may have some skewed perceptions of reality.) If I get around to sending Christmas cards this year, they will arrive after December 25th. Again, I'm aware I'm giving you information which can be used for mocking at a later time.
In the calls to worship that I wrote for Advent, though, I reminded people to wait a little longer for all the trappings of Christmas: shepherds, stars in the sky, magi journeying from afar, mangers, and inns with no vacancy. We name the things that are broken in response--and it wasn't hard to come up with a list. Last week, when I wrote, I named the kids for whom I bought presents and the IHELP guests who slept in our church.
This week, though, I was reminded still more of how much we need the Christ child. I talked with a man who told me about his call to be a monk, "If I am assassinated for this work, it is only me. I have no wife or children." He's a Sufi monk, to be precise. I'm proud that when he told me he was a dervish, I did not start singing, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" (Seriously, remember, "she could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl!") The work he was talking about? Peace. Nonviolence. Telling people at every chance he can that most Muslims want peace, that ISIS is not Islam.
I also have a nasty ear infection this week, resulting in two trips to Urgent Care. During the first trip, I spent quite a while in the waiting room. While I was there, one of the elderly women came in and asked about cost, saying plenty loud for me to hear even with my quite infected ear, "I don't have insurance." The staff responded with costs, which were a minimum of $135 if you're curious. The response from the young man at the desk when she said she'd have to come back made it clear they got this question often, "Need to think about it for a while?" She responded in the affirmative.
So let's wait a little longer. Let's wait a little longer to proclaim, "Peace on earth." Let's wait a little longer to shout, "The Christ Child is born!" Let's wait a little longer to announce, "God has drawn near."
Let's wait, for so many of our neighbors are still waiting for the kingdom to come. Let us wait together.