Hope, longing, anticipation, and preparation. As we prepare for Christmas we walk through the steps of preparing for the King to come. Not Santa, not presents, but the King. How wrong do we get this every year? How many of us lose our focus and buy into the commercialism that the media and society push down out throats? I know I do, I love getting presents! I also love the feeling of watching a person unwrap the gift that I hunted down for them. It is true, that there is something simple and sweet about picking out the perfect gift, or watching a child’s eyes light up when they look under the tree on Christmas morning. There is nothing particularly wrong about the tradition of gift giving, is Christmas not a celebration of a gift, a King, given to the world? The problem of course comes when we forget that simple fact.
Every year we begin the count down come December 1st. It is a season, something that we buy our children calendars for, a time of year that we anticipate as surly as the Jews in the 1st century anticipated freedom, a King, a Messiah. We have special services at church, we light candles, and it all leads to Christmas eve, that magical night of lights and music, joy and hope and celebrations. The world seems more beautiful in this season of advent, people say they have the ‘Christmas spirit’, they give more, they do more acts of kindness and offer generously to those less fortunate.
The question that I am left with, the one that I have been struggling with today is this… why just in the advent season? Are we not in a constant state of anticipation? Constant longing? Are we not always waiting for our King? Our Messiah? Should we not always see the world through our ‘Christmas Lens’? Look at the less fortunate and try to find ways to help them, look at the child and not offer ways for them to see delight in their world? Should we not be kind everyday? Should we not be preparing our hearts always, in constant readiness for our Saviour? Come December 26th we rush out to get to the Boxing Day sales, or we sit on the couch and rest after being stuffed full during the holidays. Why is it that we always feel let down afterwards? Why is it that we find ourselves having the ‘holiday blues’? Could it be that it is because we are still waiting on the ADVENT? Waiting for the ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’ of our King? That wait doesn’t end on Christmas morning, we celebrate his birth but we also wait for his return.
So my thoughts have run to this, that though I celebrate his birth, I also prepare my heart for his return and I should remain in the Advent season until he comes again. Always in a season of hope, longing, repentance, joy, always looking around my world and trying to spot the beauty and lights of Christmas, always doing my best to see those in need, and do what I can to help them. To show my sons how to show compassion, how to love in a world where real love is an exception, to show them how to hope, how to believe in a coming Saviour, to raise them to know that they too are waiting, hoping for and longing for their King to come.
My hope, my prayer, is that during this magical season of Christmas we remember to hang on to the spirit in which is was intended. That we give with joy, but also that we continue the hoping, continue the wonder waiting and believing. My hope is that we don’t get lost in the shuffle and rush of the season and wake up on Boxing day feeling the loss and let down of the end of Advent.