Wait! Advent 2013

Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

One of my fondest childhood memories is of the brisk autumn days when my cousin and I would play football in the yard. With ditches and trees as our only boundaries we would play hard with visions of being the next Johnny Unitas or Raymond Berry (Yes, I know that dates me!). I dreamed of one day wearing one of those fully recognizable white and some shade of gray uniform—this was by the way before color TV.

After many “Hail Mary” TD passes and tackles into the muddy ditch, we would take our “half-time break” under the pecan tree (pronounced Pee-can where I grew up!) There we would look for a fresh nut to crack open with our bare hands and savor the fruit. Too many times we tried to rush our fulfillment as the nuts were not quite ready; they were still in the green hull. Not only were they almost impossible to crack open, they weren’t any good when we did. It wasn’t until we were much older around ten that we realized we needed to wait until they were ready—the husk turns black, pops open and the nut falls out with minor persuasion (like a football spiral flung up into the branches!) Then, and only then, were we rewarded with the snack of champions we hoped for.

Like Bonhoeffer stated, this “Advent” thing is about waiting—waiting patiently until just the right time. Our calendars, and way too many merchants, remind us that the “right time” is December 25th. In all truth, the “right time” was when God chose to Be human kind’s redemption, to enter not triumphantly as expected, to grow and live among us, to pay the ultimate death for sin, and overcame death so that all who believe may receive God’s Grace and redemption!

Oh, and something else happened to me about the same time as the football and pecans—at just the right time for me: I realized my need for this One whom we are trying to celebrate this month. “Trying?” Yes, unfortunately we almost overlook the whole Reason for the Season. It is at this time of year in which we as Believers have the most perfect opportunities to help another whose time is now to believe, if they only had another to witness, testify, invite or encourage.

May we all see the opportunities before us to help ripened fruit fall safely into the loving arms of the One who came in Bethlehem.

Tommy Deal

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Tommy is the husband of Rev. Susan Deal, Minister of Music at First Baptist Church Dalton, Georgia. Together they have survived 30 years of being a ministry couple and have raised and launched two sons who are ministers in churches in Kansas and North Carolina. Tommy is a consultant and coach with congregations and clergy with Pinnacle Leadership Associates and coordinates disaster response with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia churches. Tommy has served as a public safety chaplain of fire departments and police departments in communities in which they have lived, and has been trained as a fire fighter and emergency medical responder.

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