“Waiting for a Second Christmas”
We all suffer from a Christmas disadvantage. I’m not talking about our ways or means to celebrate the season, but our position and perspective. All of us look back to the first Christmas. To celebrate Christmas, we remember what has already happened. It’s like re-calling the stress and strain of making your first mortgage payment decades past, once your house is all paid for. You can do it mentally, but it is harder to do emotionally. We call the season Advent, a coming, but how do we engage from the heart a coming that has already arrived?
For those in the Biblical pages, this arrival of Jesus was a true Advent. It was an appearance long sought. From Adam and Abraham, the reign of David and Solomon, through prophets like Daniel and Jeremiah, all the way to Mary and Joseph, the promise of the Messiah was anticipated despite delay, distress and silence. The hope of many persevered even if the patience of others faltered. It’s no wonder then that the shepherds of that nativity night were overwhelmed with excitement. They were energized, not solely by an angelic choir, but by a promise made, held and kept. The long awaited for Messiah, has come.
How do we entered into their excitement? We readily share the joy of Jesus’ birth twenty centuries past. But it is the smile of a birthday party. We celebrate the birth and life of One we love. It is true joy but it lacks the edge of anticipation. We can’t anticipate an event of the past. If this sounds similar to Scrooge-like grumbling, let me assure you, I do believe that Advent goosebumps can be added to our Christmas joy.
Maybe we have put Advent in too small a box. Bethlehem is the certainty of God’s promise kept. The Messiah has come. Bethlehem is also a secure platform to proclaim, “The Messiah is coming!” Gabriel’s promise to a confused Mary leads to an angelic promise to bewildered disciples, “He will come again!” Christmas faith is both a foundation and forecast for the Second Advent. Now I get goosebumps.
If Bethlehem is an assurance and a prediction, we stand in a similar place as the saints gone by. Like Abraham, we’ve heard the vow of God and we wait. Since God never lies, we count the days and they have been many. For over two thousand years, we’ve looked to the sky. How many more? Will we falter in our anticipation? Does the the Second Advent feel so far that it no longer impacts me? Is my Advent hope only a word in my head and not an assurance in my soul? Will the promise become so disjointed from my living that it seems irrelevant? Or, can we hold our hope every day, no matter how many days? Like excited children trained by many Christmas mornings, let us wait, knowing Advent will come. As you open your present or smile at a loved ones’ laughter this Christmas, remember. This is only a beginning. He came. He will come.