Waiting! I remember as a child how much I hated waiting. It seemed like the two months that passed between Halloween and Christmas were the longest months of the year. I was an only child and Christmas was THE holiday for only children. I know, that fits the stereotype completely. I never denied that! Thanksgiving was the halfway point for the Christmas waiting game. It was the pregame show. It was the big meal of Christmas without the gifts.
But, something happened at Thanksgiving. It suddenly became proper to think about Christmas. Shopping trips were planned, decorations were hung, and gifts began to show up under the Christmas tree wearing their wrapping paper disguises. But, no matter how many decorations were hung, or how many gifts were wrapped, Christmas still waited until December 25. There was nothing we could do to rush it along.
It is interesting how little we are willing to wait for Christmas these days. Retailers have been gearing up for Christmas since early October. I haven’t been to a mall lately, but I am certain that Christmas music has been playing for quite a while already. And many of the folks in my neighborhood have been busy putting up Christmas decorations ever since their orange “Halloween lights” came down.
The truth is that no matter when we choose to put up the lights or tune into the 24/7 Christmas music channel on the radio, we can’t make the day come any sooner. To the frustration of children everywhere, still we wait – even if capitalism says that Christmas is already here. It is no wonder that waiting is one of the great themes of the Christmas season. Not waiting to open gifts and get together with family and friends, but waiting upon the arrival of the Messiah.
The truth is that Jesus has kept us waiting twice. In the centuries leading up to the first Advent, people waited and watched, looking for the Messiah, the Anointed One. They were waiting for the Shepherd prophesied about in Isaiah 40, the one who would declare Himself to be the Good Shepherd in John 10. Expectation for the arrival of this Shepherd had been building since the first pages of the Scriptures. Eve was promised that a Son of hers would crush the head of the serpent. Moses was promised that a prophet like himself would come to deliver His people. King David was promised that a king from his lineage would always be on the throne. There was One coming that would represent all these things and more. And people waited until that day that the star appeared in the Bethlehem sky.
And still we wait. Though we have celebrated the first Advent and owe everything to the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, we now eagerly await his promised Second Advent. We live in a world that is riddled with corruption and sin. We see the effects of the curse all around us. Yet in the middle of this, we wait for another sign in the heavens. His first Advent was marked with a star in the sky. His second Advent will be marked by his triumphant appearance in the sky. The first Advent was marked by his birth as a humble baby in a feeding trough. His second Advent will be marked by his glorious arrival as the One would will rule forever and ever. At his first arrival, a hodgepodge group of shepherds and wise men paid him homage. At his second, every knee shall bow, in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Still we wait…