Comedian Louis C.K. did a bit a few years back called: "Everything's amazing and nobody is happy."
One of his illustrations is of a man who got frustrated because he couldn't get the in-flight wi-fi, which he had only just learned existed, to work as quickly as he wanted.
C.K. points out the wi-fi might not be working but this man is flying through the air, incredibly, like a bird. That the man was participating in the miracle of human flight, sitting in a chair -- in the sky!
The whole point is that we've become accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it.
And perhaps, the unintentional result is nothing is really impressive anymore because it's so instant we lose the wonder of waiting and anticipation -- especially all of us adults with our credit cards and DVR and fast-food restaurants.
When I was a child, I wanted a pair of Birkenstock sandals (the ones people call Jesus sandals) so bad. But they were $96 back then, I didn't have a credit card and the Bank of Mom and Dad declined a loan to an unemployed teenager with no job prospect on the horizon.
So, I had to wait.
My desire for those sandals began in March and by November I was still waiting. Finally, my parents broke down and bought the sandals based on a promise I would wear them until my feet fell off. I wore those sandals on the day I graduated from college!
In everybody's rush to get to Christmas, we tend forget the value of the season Christians call Advent.
Advent is this period of intentional waiting that begins four Sundays before Christmas. I like that it's four Sundays because it reminds me of the 400-year period between the Old Testament and the New Testament. There is this silence, this inter-testamental period, where the people were waiting for God to do something.
By the time we get to the Gospels, the Jewish people had gone generations where, as oppression built, hope diminished.
When Jesus was born, the whole world order flipped upside-down and as the Gospel of Luke points out: "The glory of the Lord shone all around."
It was spectacular -- not because of the lights or the presents or the food. It was spectacular because it changed everything people had known about the world and it gave them hope for a future more brilliant than they could even imagine.
Have you given any thought to how Christmas could still change the world?
There's a whole community of people out there who have given up hope, who are lost, who are afraid and who are certain that they are alone.
What if you could do something that might change that?
Well, why can't you? Seriously, why not?
Stop and acknowledge the elderly gentleman sitting alone at a restaurant. Remind him somebody sees him and cares.
That young mom, standing in line at the grocery store with the exhausted look on her face and a little one about to break down in tears? Make a funny face, distract baby long enough for mom to pay for the groceries. Remind her compassion still exists.
You know everybody rushes out on Black Friday to get a larger TV even though the one they have is still in great shape? What if you just kept the old one and took that money and bought a warm coat or some food or even a toy for a family in need instead?
Don't know where you'd find such a family? Call your local church or school.
Waiting isn't such a bad thing. The real gift of waiting is it helps clarify what's really important -- indeed, what really changes the world!
The Rev. Hope Lee, lead pastor of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, can be reached at 941-794-6229, firstname.lastname@example.org, or at biggreenchurch.org. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald written by local clergy members.