Very soon we will be in the midst of one of the busiest times in the church season. All of the stores and retailers have already put their Christmas décor up and are selling all sorts of ornaments and Christmas trappings. I remember last year that one of the local radio stations began playing Christmas music after Halloween. I didn’t believe my ears at first but sure enough, Christmas was starting earlier and earlier.
While I could rant about the secularization of Christmas, and the terrible way business misuse the birth of the Messiah for their personal profit, this year I would simply like to point out what we miss by fast forwarding right from Labor Day to Christmas. Yes, there are the traditional holidays that we will squeeze in like Hallows Eve, All Saints Day and Thanksgiving. But what we are really overlooking is the buildup and anticipation of the Birth of the Messiah.
When you were a child, which was better – the anticipation of getting a Christmas present or the actual opening the present? For me it’s hard to tell which I enjoyed more. In truth, the waiting and the wondering and the longing for that gift was part of the joy on Christmas morning.
In the 24th chapter of Matthew, the Lord likens His coming kingdom to birth pains. If you have ever experienced the expectation of a child, you know that the anticipation and expectation are part of the euphoria experienced at the birth of that child. We get so caught up in the excitement we rush to tell our neighbors of the impending arrival, hand out pink cigars, and post baby pictures on Facebook. Are we showcasing the arrival of the Savior, the Messiah, Lord of all Creation with the same anticipation, expectation, and passion? Nope. Probably not.
As Christians, we need to stop and live in the expectation and anticipation of the coming Messiah. Whether we are looking back to His birth, or forward to His return we should live daily in the joy of expectation and anticipation. We should stop living in our moment and start living in His anticipation.
Matthew 24 goes on to explain that we will know the coming of the Messiah because there will be signs signaling His coming like contractions signal birth labor, but that His coming is not yet. It reminds me of the old song (showing my age) Delta Dawn. It was a song about a lady who was so certain of a man’s return that she walked around town with a suitcase in her hand and a flower in her lapel. I’m not really a country music fan, much less a Tanya Tucker fan, but I have often thought the words echoed the sentiment of the church. As believers, we should be Delta Dawns, for He is truly coming back to take us to His mansion in the sky. Furthermore, we should be doing this in such a fashion that people ask, “What’s that flower you have on?”
“My flower? Oh, it’s a poinsettia and represents the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God crucified for my sins and for the sins of many. He loves me and is coming back soon to take me home eternally.”
You see, that’s the whole of Advent – to realize that we are people with hope and expectation. Our future is not uncertain because our faith is founded in the one who gave His life for us, and soon will return for us.
Maybe the next time you hear “Delta Dawn” on the oldies station, you’ll stop and think…this is a great Advent Christmas song. I will even let you wear your denim bell bottoms and matching wide collar leisure jacket to church on Sunday morning.