Jenna McDonald — Grace Is Waiting 

Step back from the feverish decorating blitz

Voices Dec 25, 2016

McDonald writes: "Dare to celebrate Christmas as it was always meant to be celebrated."


What does washing dishes have to do with waiting for Christmas?

Servant of God Catherine Doherty, the foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate, writes: “If I have the attitude that (washing dishes) is a beautiful little thing that I can give God, then washing a cup becomes an adventure … every little thing should be done perfectly, completely connected with God. Otherwise, it ceases to be interesting”.

Chores like washing dishes are often despised. We grunt and grumble our way through them so that we can move on to something more important and worthy of our time. At times, we labour, scour, and scrub those crusty pans with the strength of ten men.

If we let those dishes soak in hot water, however, it's a different story. If we return when they are good and ready to cooperate, we experience something close to domestic magic. The grime will simply slide off the pan. The simplicity there is marvellous.

This is what it is to live a godly life. When we wait to do the proper task at the ordained time, we will no longer be working against ourselves / the clock / the universe. When we do our part to wait for God and then act when (and only when) we hear him say, “this is the way, walk in it,” we will always have the sense that our whole life is guided and orchestrated for our good. “In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest while the Lord pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber” (Ps. 127).

God acts when it is time to act and not a second before. He sent Jesus only in the fullness of time and not a second before. The wait made Israel ready to receive their saviour like “a dry weary land without water” receives the rain.

If we have been feasting like it's Christmas, when we should be waiting like it's Advent, we rob ourselves of experiencing God's visitation in the depths of our hearts. If we were never yearning, he won't find an expectant heart, but instead, a partied-out heart, or worse, a get-it-over-with heart. We've spoiled our dinner with too much snacking. If we are scrubbing dishes when we should be letting them soak, we will feel our folly, physically. When we act out of turn, our bodies and souls will know it.

When we labour at the wrong time, we will start to feel a marked distaste for the task at hand. This is why many people are beginning to swear off Christmas. They aren't doing Christmas when and how they are supposed to do Christmas. There is some age-old wisdom that is being overlooked.

If we are plowing through Advent as though it's an ongoing dress rehearsal for Christmas, we are going to end up feeling frayed, exhausted, and disappointed. We will be “dry and weary” but not for the right reasons!

This Advent let some dishes soak while you collect yourself. Step back from the feverish decorating blitz. Keep the neighbours wondering about your lack of Christmas decor until, well … Christmas. Your pace of celebration will not go unnoticed; especially when your tree stays lit-up well after Christmas and all the way until the Epiphany.

Delight yourself in the knowledge that Godly waiting always yields profound and prolonged joy (think Sarah, Simeon, Elizabeth). Ours is a lasting, life-saving joy; it won't be removed and turfed to the curb like our street's Christmas trees on Boxing Day. In our day, faithful waiting is an act of rebellion. Dare to celebrate Christmas as it was always meant to be celebrated.