By Derek Maul
One of my pet peeves about Christmas is how we tend to go hard at the familiar story that plays out around the manger, or at least the classic tableau featured in Christmas cards, but then routinely ignore so many other interesting elements.
It’s like movie and television writers evidently believing the only hymn ever sung in church is Amazing Grace, when hundreds of others are just as popular. It’s just that with Christmas we’re all complicit in practicing tunnel vision.
This is one reason my men’s group talked about the story of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2: 21-38). It’s a wonderful narrative; featuring two faithful, hope-filled, elderly people who wait patiently their entire lives to witness the promise of Jesus.
We talked about impatience, the incessant “show me now!” mentality that pervades our culture, and what God is teaching us about hope and promise. The sad fact is, endemic impatience and demanding short-term gratification (two maladies that define our age) not only govern our expectations, but they limit our vision too.
Then, as we talked about our own struggles to live Christ’s teachings rather than the ideals of the world, the following truth settled into my consciousness and came to the surface like a daffodil pushing its way through the snow on an early spring day.
“Patience is the place where hope is born.” Patience can provide a place where hope takes root and grows. Patience can be the place where vision is nurtured, and where we begin to see the road ahead more clearly. One of many problems associated with the desire to see results “right now”, and to reap the profits in this quarter rather than letting things settle and grow, is that all we see is a one-dimensional return.
Then we become unable to look far enough into the future to nurture hope, or walk into vision, or live as a people conceived in promise.
“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” (Isaiah 40:31)