I love anticipation. I love looking forward to something. It could be a trip I’m taking or an evening out with my wife or a fun activity with my children or grandchildren. I love to have things planned that I know I can look forward to. It helps me get through the mundane and routine of life. It also helps us get through hard and difficult times.
When I was a child I loved Christmas. I loved looking forward with anticipation to a big family get-together at Aunt Lucy and Uncle Leland’s farm, all the food, the decorations and, yes, opening presents. I could hardly wait sometimes I was so excited for Christmas to “get here.” I know my grandchildren are the same way. I made them a promise that they get to have a sleepover at grandma and grandpa’s house, complete with a Boz the Bear Woweebozowee Christmas video and popcorn, a live nativity complete with a camel, breakfast with Santa at the hospital, selecting and cutting down our Christmas tree, and finally a movie at the local theater. They were so excited. And we survived doing all those things in just under 24 hours with 5 grandchildren. Excitement! Anticipation!
That’s how it was for some of God’s people in the Old Testament times. God gave them the promise of a Messiah, a Savior, who would one day come and set God’s people free. He would rule over them and establish a kingdom in which there was perfect justice and righteousness. That promise gave God’s people hope. They waited and anticipated the fulfillment of that promise in their lifetime. People like Simeon, “who was a righteous man and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel,” anticipated the coming of the Messiah. When John the Baptist burst on the scene to prepare the people for God’s Messiah we were told, “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possible be the Christ” (Lk 3:15). But John pointed them to Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. People were looking for the Messiah. God’s promise held out hope to them. And they eagerly anticipated the coming of the Savior. We know Jesus came and fulfilled God’s promise. And we celebrate his coming into our world every year at Christmas, the birth of God’s Son, the Messiah/Christ-child. And Advent is a season that helps us prepare. It builds a sense of anticipation inside us. It holds out hope as we struggle through difficulties or weave our way through the mundane and routine of life.
Advent also teaches us to anticipate the day when God’s Son will return as King of kings and Lord of lords. God’s Old Testament people didn’t know exactly when the Messiah would come, but they believed he would and that gave them hope. We don’t know exactly when Jesus will come again, but we believe God’s promise that he will. And when he comes he will set us free forever from the struggles we have with sin and the pain we experience from suffering because of sin. And that promise gives us hope.So, go ahead, look forward to Christmas with a child-like eager faith. I know I do. I look forward to sharing that special day with my children and grandchildren. But also keep one eye peeled on the sky. For we have that day to look forward to as well.