Today is Christmas Eve. The church I serve will celebrate tonight at 7 and 11 p.m., with the first celebration featuring songs led by children and the second celebration culminating in the beautiful lighting of candles at midnight.
For Christians, Christmas Eve represents the end of Advent, a season of longing for the birth of Jesus. It’s a time during which Christians anticipate and wait.
Waiting for something important is difficult, isn’t it? Test results. College admission. Job application. Waiting for something important is difficult.
I was reminded of the difficulty of waiting when my nephew was born. At my sister-in-law’s regular visit that week her doctor discovered that her baby did not grow since the previous visit. After consulting with colleagues and not determining what the problem was, the doctors felt it best to get that little guy out. Delena was admitted to the hospital on a Wednesday night so that she could be observed and induced into labor the following morning.
There were tests, some waiting and then the doctor met with my brother and sister-in-law to advise doing a C-section immediately. The baby was showing signs of distress. The anticipation increased greatly.
The C-section was scheduled for 11 p.m., so I called a friend who worked at that hospital to find out the best “back door” place to see my nephew as soon as possible after delivery. She gave me stellar advice and I went to stake out my spot and wait. 11 came and went, as did 11:15 and 11:25.
While waiting, I realized that there was a set of doors behind the doors I could see. The creakiness of these hidden doors let me know somebody was coming. Around 11:30, I heard the creak. I quickly grabbed my camera and turned it on. The doors opened and out came … not my brother, but a different new father, child and nurse.
The nurse asked the name of the family for whom I was waiting and then told me that “our” C-section was rescheduled but she didn’t know why. Why would it be rescheduled? Until when? How can I find out? My anticipation increased drastically. I wanted answers, but I didn’t want to leave my spot; I also didn’t know where to go.
After some more waiting, my brother came from a different direction to confirm that the C-section was moved to midnight because they had a more urgent C-section. More waiting.
Midnight came and went, as did 12:10, 12:15, 12:20, 12:25. The first set of creaky doors opened. I turned on my camera. The second set never opened. I checked my watch. The first set of creaky doors opened again. I turned on my camera. The second set never moved. I checked my watch.
A nurse walked by. I offered to buy some WD-40 for the creaky doors. She wasn’t amused.
I thought my watch quit, it was moving so slowly. 12:30, 12:35, 12:38, 12:40, 12:42, 12:43, 12:45. I waited. I anticipated.
If my watch moved any slower, it would have been going in reverse. I never knew a C-section to take so long. What was going on in there?
I longed to see my sister-in-law. I longed to see my brother. I was tired of waiting. I was eager to know something. Anything: bad news, good news, anything. I wanted to know something.
The creaky hidden doors opened. I grabbed my camera. The second set of doors never moved. I considered taking the doors off their hinges. 12:50, 1:00, 1:05, 1:10. I waited. I anticipated.
There were no chairs in the hallway, but I did not want to sit on the floor. I did not want to sit at all. I wanted to be on my feet, camera in hand, ready. I wanted to be ready to take pictures if the news was happy. I wanted to be ready to give hugs and support if the news was not. My back ached and my feet hurt, but I would not sit; I wanted to be ready. 1:11, 1:12, 1:13, 1:14 AM. I waited. I anticipated.
The first set of doors creaked. I grabbed my camera. I was tired, but I was ready. Let this not be yet another false alarm. Let this not be yet another time the outer doors defiantly stood still, mocking my eagerness, disrespecting my anticipation.
Was the sound growing stronger? Yes, I think it was. Did the doors start to move? Yes, they did. Out came my nephew, all five pounds and some change, held by his relieved and happy dad.
There was much relief! There was much rejoicing! A child was born.
Today is Christmas Eve. Christians stand waiting for the Christ-child with great anticipation. For long we have waited; for long we have anticipated.
Friends, the doors are beginning to creak. Friends, the time is now.