We see it every year in the world. Before Thanksgiving has even begun the rush to advertise amidst the barrage of the false images of what the birth of Christ really meant assaults us. We are reminded continually of the crass commercialism we will experience for the next four weeks that will make an attempt to dull our senses to the remembrance of a sacred day which should be holy and should fill us with joy. But it seems to blaze by. Amidst the rush of shopping, decorating and preparing we lose the real experience and implication of anticipation.
Christmas used to be so simple and sacred. But we have forgotten how to wait. Our society teaches us that we should have everything now. As soon as young people marry nowadays, they want the same things it took their parents years to enjoy. They want it all now. They want that fullness of experience that can only be enjoyed after years of suffering and waiting. We would rather bypass the suffering. And waiting? That was something born of necessity in years gone by. Now, we want what we can have and we want it now.
I am afraid that attitude has crept into the church. Every year, once every twelve months, people clamour for certain experiences. We want certain songs sang. Never mind that many of the songs labeled as “Christmas songs” could be done much better, many are weak theologically and some are downright unbiblical. We just want that feeling that singing these songs bring us and we want it all month long. We want our month of Christmas.
Churches have for years experienced and taught the necessity of waiting and anticipating the coming of the Messiah. Some call it advent, the few weeks before December 25th. Now I am not in favor of religious trappings, but the biblical notion of waiting certainly appeals to me in my somewhat advanced age. Waiting is something that God uses in many situations. There is a maturing process that only waiting can accomplish.
We are a people who are waiting on the coming of the Lord. We are to anticipate His coming and hope for it, but we are to wait. We are to endure. We are to fast and pray. Long. We are to wait on Him. We are to suffer. And when He comes, oh how glorious, how precious, how sweet.
This is the way to truly celebrate Christmas. As it happened. The Israelites had waited the coming of the Messiah with anticipation. For years they had suffered. And then He came. He was born. The Deliverer was here.
There is something about the coming of Christ that wonderfully appeals to me. The culmination of waiting? The enjoyment of the promise I had embraced? The receiving of the gift? The shock of the world? Oh, one day the world will bow to my King. One glorious day.
In a couple weeks, we will meet on Christmas Eve and enjoy celebrating together. It will be a sacred moment. Standing in our church in a circle, holding hands and rejoicing that we are safe in Christ. That evening for some, for us the next morning on Christmas day, the family will sit in a small circle and read about that glorious day 2000 years ago when our Savior came to earth in the body of a baby. It will once again be holy. It will be meaningful. It will be special. One thing that makes it special every year is the waiting and the anticipation. Celebrating advent in our own way. This is not Christmas month. This is advent, but Christmas Day is coming.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come..
Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Romans 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.