As the end of the year draws closer, news headlines of the year are featured, and I think back feeling they were from more than a year ago. During the Edo Period, the common people would listen to Joya no Kane (bells ringing out the old year) and talk about “Shichimi Go-etsu San-e.” Family members would rejoice that the year has been a good one if one had 7 delicious food, 5 happy moments and 3 wonderful encounters with someone during the year. This is quite a stylish way of spending the end of the year. Smartphones have become an element of our lives these days, so it might be worthwhile looking at stored photos on our phones. Unfortunate things and disasters can happen in any year. However, by retracing one’s memory little by little, we may be led to realize that there were happy and thankful moments. Similarly, if people can look to the past from the future, the new year, for sure, may be welcomed peacefully.
“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:26)
Everyone knows waiting on God is not easy. The Divine Providence is vast and boundless. When unacceptable happenings occur while waiting on God, we may be torn between conflicting emotions suspecting the salvation of God and losing control of ourselves and even our belief. The book of Isaiah is going to be read during the Christmas service.
Although it was more than 700 years before the birth of our Savior, it is said as if it has already happened. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” (Isaiah 9:6) Since the birth of Christ is the Word of God and the will of God, Isaiah took it as an event that has, for sure, already happened. Waiting for the Savior is not just waiting for something uncertain. The true Savior appears to those who earnestly trust in God without any agitation towards the length of the wait.
Abram went as the Lord had told him. He was not able to obtain land easily nor was there any sign of him begetting an heir. To him, the sound of the dry desert wind might have sounded as if “that cannot possibly be.”
However, Abram looked at the stars afar, the light in darkness and continued to hold belief in God. At the beginning of the Christmas Story, the Gospel of Luke depicts Mary who was confused by the angel’s words. “How will this be…?” Mary realized that God’s greatest promise was the birth of the Savior, the Lord himself, and she came to wait on the Lord. We also wait on our Lord.
“But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24b-25)
The Christmas preparations are starting. We wait with joy for that is the definite happiness. The Savior will come into this world among us. Let us spend the season of Advent trusting salvation, love, and forgiveness which God had already started.
Revd Matthew Naomichi Yano
Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church