As we begin the 4 week journey to Christmas it seems timely to consider what the period of Advent can teach us about waiting.

"Four weeks of hope and anticipation. And four weeks to prepare ourselves, to get ready. This is what Advent is about. Listening to all that God promises us. Waiting for those promises to be realized." Pray As You Go - December 1 & 2

The Advent wreath, with its four candles reminds us of hope, faith, joy and peace; each lit on subsequent Sundays during the Advent season. The circular shape of the wreath symbolizes God's complete and unending love for us, without beginning or end. As we anticipate the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus Christ, we both prepare and anticipate by lighting additional candles as we wait, increasing the light and overcoming the darkness.

What ways can we share hope with others while we/they wait? Sharing hope can be such a gift and we cannot help but benefit by the light that it brings to others. We all wait, and most of us don't like it, especially during the holidays: waiting for test results, waiting to hear about grades, waiting for a loved one to return home, waiting in line to purchase holiday gifts - how can we grow and share hope? Kind words, patience, prayer ...

Faith is “... is the realization of what is hoped for, and evidence of things not seen ..." Hebrews 11:1 How can we build and share faith during this human period of waiting? How can the belief of something bigger than ourselves and understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus for us heal wounds and encourage forgiveness? How can our Christ-like behavior in the face of other's poor behavior be a light?

Joy, pure joy! The candle in the Advent wreath is pink and represents the joy we have access to during this wonderful season. How can we increase the joy of others? How can we find moments of joy without expectation? What about belting out some Christmas Carols in the car and thinking about what their message can be in our daily life? A joyful wait is so much better than a frustrated, angry one.

And finally peace. Peace on earth, peace in our families, peace of mind. Christ said, I leave you peace, my peace I give you ... how can we bring peace to others? Stay quiet in the face of a harsh word, say a silent prayer for someone struggling, enjoy the beauty of a peaceful snowfall -- experience and share peace.

Waiting has a negative connotation, and given the choice between waiting and not having to, most of us would choose the latter. Maybe Advent can re-frame waiting, a time to experience hope, faith, joy and peace.

My wish for you: a hopeful, faithful, joyful, and peaceful journey to Christmas Day.

Karen DeCuir-DiNicola