Nativity’s are popping up everywhere, and it seems the baby has already been born. I mean, there he is, a beautiful Christmas preemie lying in the manger – Quite literally, a blessing from God. Not only have Joseph and Mary gone from room to room seeking a place to crash and managed to find someone’s make-shift barn, they have also already had a baby. More so, I have noticed this year God’s PR department seems to have worked overtime because the wise men have already been invited and arrived – as have the shepherds with a whole heap of sheep.
The scene is set and everyone is already there. And who can resist setting up such a scene. From the poor and outcast of society (the shepherds who were not well respected at all in Jesus’ day) to the rich, powerful, and kingly (the three wise men bringing some of the priciest gifts), everyone has been invited. It was something worth traveling for, to be there at the coming of this God/Child infant. It therefore seems we are a Christmas people and that we want it all to come together now. We want to shout from the roofs, “God is with us! Immanuel!”, and put lights on the unfolding scene and remind each other and the world what God has done in coming in this infant.
Though, in this season of Advent, we are also a people who are waiting. This rush to Christmas – and I don’t just mean storming the Black Friday halls of Walmart – to celebrate the birth of Jesus, can rush us through a vast amount of the waiting that is important to who we are as God’s people who have a history of participating in God’s story.
For thousands of years God guided the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they waited and yearned for God’s name, and face, and direction. They sought him in their shared stories, God’s commandments, the words of the prophets, and the entire law. They wanted to know what God was doing, what God was like, what God wanted of them. For generation after generation, they remembered the promises God had made and wished them to be fulfilled. They waited in hopeful expectation for lifetimes for what God would do, or be, or reveal.
These next four weeks, I invite you to wait in hopeful expectation as well. Avoid the Christmas rush. Look for signs that God is coming. Wonder about ways to prepare for the King who is coming and who is to return. Bake cookies just in case Christ shows up. Pretend for a moment that the manger is empty and God’s awesome and unexpected plan has yet to come to fruition. Set two extra seats at the dinner table just in case a hungry pregnant couple shows up. Ponder the hope that God might come to you and ask you to take part in this plan. Ponder your reaction if an angel showed up on your doorstep and asked you to bear Good News to the world. Maybe dwell on the words: hope, promise, awake, and prepare. Do whatever floats your fancy because God has come, and God is coming – but not yet.
-From one eager Christmas person to another J