It is lovely to see how excited children get about the coming of Christmas. We are entering a season of Christmas carol services, nativities and choir concerts. Our church has its fair share of these, many of which start in the coming few days. We have the privilege of hosting a nursery nativity this week, where the church will be full of small children, excited about Christmas and all that it means.
As adults, we become a bit more subdued about the Christmas season. Perhaps it’s because we seen it all many times before – seen the same nativity story, sung the same carols, heard the same Bible readings. Perhaps it’s because we don’t look forward to Christmas in the same way. It feels more of a burden than a celebration and, even if we do enjoy it, it’s an enjoyment mixed with a list of things to do. Whatever the reason, it seems that we have lost something of the excitement and anticipation we probably had as children.
Advent is a period of time in the church’s calendar that focuses on the coming of Christ. Despite its closeness to Christmas, it is actually a season that concentrates on the second coming of Jesus more than his birth at Bethlehem. But it’s also a season that reminds us that Christians should be people of anticipation. We are those who have great expectations.
As Jesus talks to his disciples about his return in glory, he tells them of signs and signals of that day to come. And then he tells them:
”Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.”Matthew 24:33
And so a little later, he tells them, “Therefore, keep watch…” (Matthew 24:42)
As followers of Jesus, we are not to know the exact day or hour in which he will return. But we are to live expecting him to return. We live our lives with anticipation, looking out for the signs and knowing that the day of Christ’s glory is near.
Jesus is clear: his disciples are to be people of anticipation. Yet I know that I don’t live each day as if the return of Christ is right at the door. Often, I forget that it is going to happen all together.
It seems to me that Jesus’ return should occupy our minds just as the coming of Christmas occupies the minds of little children. It should fill us with wonder and anticipation. We should lie in our beds, breathlessly thinking, “Is he here yet?” It should fill our conversations with other believers. It should shape our thoughts and emotions and lives.
What if we miss out on some of the joy and wonder and excitement about being a Christian because we miss the joy, wonder and excitement about Jesus’ return? Why don’t we pray that God would plant that anticipation in our hearts this advent? And why don’t we let a little of that same excitement seep into our celebration of Christmas this year too?