Monday, December 14, 2009

The Long Dark Winter of our Waiting

Recently my husband said on his facebook status that the difference between Kansas Winter and New England Winter is that it gets just as cold but here nobody is complaining about it. I disagreed with him. I think the difference between Kansas Winter and New England Winter is that in Kansas when you make it to January the Winter is almost over but in New England it is just beginning. Spring comes in March to Kansas where as Spring does not arrive in New England until late April or early May (in Kansas we were lucky if we were not approaching 90 by then). Garrison Keillor (who is from Minnesota) is fond of saying that every winder mother nature has a good go at trying to kill us all. And I have to say living through each Winter might not be the accomplishment which it was for my foremothers and fathers but sometimes I still feel it is quite the accomplishment.

I have always spent Winter looking forward to the the coming of the buds on the tree, the crocuses, the daffodils, the lilacs and the return of the birds who had the brains to fly south to warmer climates while we all nearly froze for several months. I look forward to the relief of Winter's harsh chill. Now don't get me wrong. I love sitting with a cup of hot chocolate, curled up with a book in my favorite chair (and ten blankets), watching the snow fall outside my window, but I like the fresh newness of Spring, the warmth and the new life all around much, much more.

In Kansas I loved the feeling I received come January and I knew the end of Winter was in sight. The hope as we moved through the weeks into February and finally emerging into March with it last snow fall and the promise of great things to come by the time April moved in. I also remember what it was like to come back for J-term (the mini-semester during January which was between the Fall and Spring semesters) at Eastern Nazarene College here on the South side of Boston. I remember coming back and knowing there was an indeterminably long winter ahead of me full of cold toes and near frozen fingers.

Waiting for Winter is a lot like waiting for Christ to come. We feel like our wait is a New England wait, indeterminably long. It seems like we will never see the buds of new life which we look forward to with the coming of Christ. We just keep waiting and waiting and waiting. In the Advent season we remind ourselves of the Hope that is to come, of them hope we have as we anticipate the renewed, full, abundant life which will be ours. We remind ourselves of the Joy our waiting should bring. But we live in a winter which never seems to have an end. We look at the frozen world around us and wonder if we can even dare hope that all creation will be renewed, dare hope all the wonderful promises the Bible has to offer can truly come to pass. We know we are to hope. We know we are to rejoice but it is so hard when that for which we want to hope and rejoice for seems never to come.

But even as we live in the reality of was seems to be an indeterminably long wait, live functionally in a New England Winter forever waiting for a Spring which seems to be in the far distant future, we need to live as if we are in a Kansas Winter, where as Christmas, with our celebration of the incarnation and Christ first coming, we can see that Spring is almost here, just a few short months and new life will be springing up all around us. That for which we are longing, that for which we are waiting, is just around the corner. We need to live as if we KNOW Christ's coming is imminent. Live as if we expect our celebration of Christ's incarnation; our celebration of the birth which brought Jesus into the world the first time, is the turning point. Christmas should be the point at which we remember that Christ's coming is not a pipe dream but something real which can come and will come any day. We need to live in the Hope, live in the Joy, live in the anticipation as if we know that Christ is coming as surely as the Spring.