In a wooden pew, in the church where I grew up, I breathed in deeply the truth of Christmas: The wait is over.
I feel that relief every year on Christmas Eve. You know the feeling: the joy-filled anticipation that began back when the first Advent candle was lit, when the first snow fell, when this season’s first Christmas carol played. And then, Christmas Eve arrives and you remember: The wait is over. Christ has come.
The best things in life are enriched by The Wait. Waiting is built into our very faith. The Biblical journeys of our forefathers were rooted in waiting — for nine months, or three days, or forty years.
But lately, The Wait — normally a period of giddy anticipation at Christmastime — has been filled with more anxiety than usual in our home.
Waiting for my husband to finish his harvest when snow came too early.
Waiting for father-in-law Paul to get well.
Waiting for Paul to come home from the hospital, in time for Christmas.
If the wait is truly over, why does it seem so far away?
So this Christmas, more than ever before, I needed to know that the wait really is
over. Maybe that’s why the truth of Christ’s arrival settled more deeply into my soul than it had in year’s past.
The wait is over, because as Pastor Dave says, “The Repairman has arrived.” That’s how Dave instructed us to greet one another at church on Christmas Eve, when I sat in a wooden pew in my hometown church.
“Turn to your neighbor,” Dave told us, “And tell one another, “The Repairman has arrived.” So that’s what we did. Many of us who know Dave understood exactly where he was headed with this seemingly peculiar greeting.
You see, Dave refers to Jesus as “The Repairman.” Dave’s thinking goes like this: Jesus worked as a carpenter, died on the cross to fix the mess in this world and then works in the repair business even today, fixing broken lives. Jesus was, is and always will be a fix-it man. He puts us together for this life, then fits us for eternity.
Hope fulfilled. The wait is over.
Pastor Dave should know. He called on Mr. Fix-It again this week just so he could get through the church service. This Christmas Eve, Dave couldn’t step up to the pulpit. Instead, he sat in the front of the church, in a wheelchair. Only days earlier, he had his foot surgically removed. But there he sat — with a purple cast in the place where his right foot used to be.
Lessons delivered from Dave’s wheelchair on Christmas Eve hit home a day later. My father-in-law, Paul, did not come home for Christmas. He celebrated Christ’s birthday in a hospital bed.
We carried presents and crayon drawings to a hospital room this year, and sipped orange Fanta from the vending machine.
As we walked through the hospital hallways, we saw other families gathered in other rooms, with their own presents piled around wheelchairs and IV carts and hospital beds.
Like us, they had hoped and waited — but their father or daughter or grandpa could not come home for Christmas. So we all brought Christmas to them.
In times like these, you have to repeat the church-pew lesson in your head over and over to make sure it sticks. Because even in a short time, doubt and anxiety creep in and threaten to steal the joy. The Wait becomes painful. So we repeat the lesson, lest we forget. The wait is over. The wait is over. The Repairman has arrived. The Repairman has arrived.
Leaving the hospital that day, the reminder came once again — not in a church pew, but on a roadside sign. On the front yard of the Cliff Avenue Upholstery and Restoration shop, someone put the sign there, and I think it was there just for us to see as we left the hospital parking lot. “Rejoice!” the sign read, “Christ the Lord is born this day!”
It was not lost on us that the message about our Repairman came to us on the front lawn of a Restoration shop. In the wait, the Repairman restores our hope.
Truly, the wait is over. The Repairman has arrived.