As I prepare to dig out Christmas decorations from the closet where they had been hanging from last year, my mind traveled back years to my childhood. How anxiously I would pester my mom and dad about putting up the Christmas tree. When? This weekend? Tomorrow? How about right now? I would always have to wait, feeling like I was going to bust open with expectation and anticipation until somewhere in the second week of December. Once we cut the tree, it would sit in the garage for a day or two. Then we would make a fresh cut off the trunk, put the base on it and bring it inside to the living room. Lights, garland and then the ornaments – we got to listen to Christmas music while we decorated the tree. I would sit in the living room with all the lights off except for the Christmas tree lights and bask in the peace and beauty. The anticipation of the Christmas tree led to much of the happiness that the tree brought. Without the anticipation, the waiting, the expectation, the “not yet’s”. I doubt that I would have experienced the same kind of satisfaction and joy when the tree was finally up and decorated.
Advent is the time of anticipation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. In the centuries before the birth of the Christ, the people of Israel yearned for the coming of their promised Messiah. They heard the prophets tell of his future coming. When? Tomorrow? Not yet.
Finally, when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman (Gal. 4:4) in Bethlehem. But, it wasn’t until Magi from the east showed up in Jerusalem looking for the newborn King, that the people of that city knew he had even come. When King Herod heard the news, he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him (Matt. 2:3). Not quite the reaction to the news that one might have expected! Where is the joyous fulfillment of the centuries of anticipation? Why weren’t the people excited to have finally received the promised Messiah?
Many things can dull the expectations and anticipations for a celebratory Christmas season. Many things can cloud over the expectations and anticipations that we have for Christ’s second coming to this earth. Much works to hide from our hearts and minds the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is present with us even now! Advent works to cure us of the heart-dulling forces working against us to weary us with the changes and chances of life that kill joy. Advent is there to enliven our minds to the real presence of Jesus among us today and to restore to us a child-like trust and hope in Him, looking forward expectantly to His Second Coming. Read the Christmas account in Luke, chapter two. While you’re at it, read the account in Matthew’s gospel. Notice all the historical detail that is given. This is no long, long ago, far, far away fairy tale. This is the most blessed reality. God came from heaven to save sinners! Jesus came into our world for us. Jesus came into our world, for you! So read the account.
May this Advent be a blessed time to you in which your hope is enlivened in Christ. May Christ’s power be stirred up in Your life to rescue you from the sins that dull you and weigh you down. May all the joys of Christ’s presence, power and his promised return in glory fill you so that you watch and wait for Him in eager anticipation to come again in glory.
Pastor Aaron Boerst