In traditional times (not all that long ago) the weeks before Christmas were seen as a time of waiting.
There were memories, reminders, readings of other times when people waited in hope for release from a dreadful situation, or for someone they were expecting to come, for a promise to be kept.
Today we look at the people of Ukraine holding on with a terrible hope that missiles will cease raining down, that missing sons and daughters and husbands will come home, that the freezing winter will be over and that help will come from somewhere.
It must be so difficult for them to keep hope alive.
In our much gentler circumstances we wait for the feast of Christmas. But it’s difficult for us in Australia to think of these days as a time of waiting. In our hemisphere so much is about finishing; school graduations, book clubs taking a long break, parties at work, final examinations.
The year is coming to a close and we are probably waiting for a welcome holiday away camping or swimming at the beach.
But still we light Advent candles one by one and remind ourselves that the birth of a baby at Christmas means a time of waiting as it does for all women pregnant with a child growing in her womb; for all fathers waiting for the child to appear.
This is a potent image, not to be submerged by too much tinsel and shopping.
Ann Belford Ulanov, a mother, priest and psychologist, writes of the strange psychologic and physical metamorphosis a pregnant woman undergoes and that this is a model for all spiritual transformation in our own lives.
It is important to reflect on the spiritual and religious imagery of Christmas and feel the pulse of new birth stirring in our own lives.
At this time before Christmas it can be a good thing to be quiet sometimes and ask our heart
‘What are you waiting for. What new birth is longing to appear in my life?’