At church, we light a candle each Advent Sunday, as many churches do. But yesterday, I was struck by how much shorter the first candle was compared to the rest. The second candle was taller but still shorter than the unlit ones.
That first Sunday of Advent, we were waiting for Christmas, to celebrate the mystery of God becoming man to save a wayward creation. We’re still waiting on the third Sunday, but it’s closer. Two candles commemorate the waiting that’s already behind us.
They show that the waiting is behind us, and with it, the sorrows. I don’t remember what worried me on the first Sunday of Advent this year. Kids, money, pants that inexplicably no longer fit? I don’t know, because those worries are gone.
It can be torturous to wait, whether at the DMV or during labor contractions or for presents Christmas morning or when applying for a job–or waiting to hear on someone else’s job application that might uproot your life by a thousand miles…not that I’m speaking from experience.
But Advent is not a torturous wait. It’s a hopeful wait. It’s the bringing a picnic to the DMV or getting an epidural to soothe the pain kind of wait–only infinitely better. An existence that was once marked only by the slow march to death is exchanged for a thrill of hope and new life through someone who looks like us but holds eternity.
Candles dripping remind us that hope is coming; the wait is shortening. Come, Lord Jesus.