Childhood was such a blast. Of all the seasons and occasions that generated such fond memories, nothing really ever compared to Christmas. Both as a child and now as an adult, I just love this time of year. It’s interesting, however, how my perspective of the Christmas season has changed. When I was younger Christmas was filled with anticipation. We had an advent calendar in our home and we’d put a Velcro ornament on a felt Christmas tree to countdown the days. It felt like each day just crawled with a slowness I could barely stand. I was so excited and so eager for the 24th and 25th. It was just a strong anticipation for Christmas to come.
The pace of anticipation has drastically changed as an adult. Now, it feels as though the Christmas season ends as rapidly as it appears. The frantic pace to purchase gifts, attend all the events, and manage the responsibilities at work create a busyness that makes it feel as though the clock is moving extra fast. As a result, busyness and a rapid pace have replaced the power and the beauty of anticipation. I’ll confess to you all and say that I feel we lose something fairly important when we no longer have the ability to slow life down and feel the weight of anticipation. We need to understand what it means to wait on something. We need to maintain that sense of longing in our hearts. We need to cultivate a posture of eager anticipation. When we learn to wait, we learn to trust. Christmas should show us that trusting in God and waiting on Him results in promises fulfilled and hope obtained.
I don’t want to lose the longing for Jesus that we should all carry. Christmas should remind us that God has not left us alone. We sing out in joyful praise because we know, definitively, God is with us. Christmas should remind us that Jesus will come again. And we should long, with joyful anticipation for his return. All of us carry some form of pain or grief into this Christmas season. We have broken families, wayward children, diminishing health, estranged relationships, loneliness, grief and the list goes on. We can feel entrapped by these difficulties. If we aren’t careful, our life can turn into a frantic pace of trying to rid ourselves of such distress. Christmas should serve as the powerful reminder that our true hope is not in our ability to rescue ourselves but to trust in the rescue he has promised. We love this life and live it to the full. May we be ambassadors of joy, peace, hope and love. But may we do so as those who understand the power of anticipation. May we live out the same truths that we sing: Come, Thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art. Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
What are you waiting for this year? Slow down today. Look to the manger. Enjoy the simple power of anticipation. Let this season turn your life into a song that constantly sings, “Come! Come, thou long expected Jesus.”