Did Advent sneak up on you three days ago like it always does on me?
Maybe it’s because I like to savor Thanksgiving and those in my family who gather each November–often it’s the only time we get that time all year–that I am reluctant to move on to Christmas before the Thanksgiving weekend is over.
But Advent began last Sunday. And it’s okay if you, like me, missed the first Sunday.
Looking forward to Santa is not the central theme of Christmas but longing for the coming of Christ is. For many multiplied centuries God’s people waited and hoped for the Messiah who was promised. Praying for His coming; O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
Anticipation is not just for children, but is a crucial element of grown-up mature faith. For what is faith if it is not expectation? Believing the promises is its essence.
We so easily forget how long God’s people waited for His first coming. For thousands of years God gave clues through a steady stream of messages delivered by His prophets hinting at the time and place where Jesus would come. He was preparing the way.
But then there was a 400-year pregnant pause of silence until the fullness of time had come. As I wrote in the opening stanza of the book, What God Wants for Christmas, this long wait had become a very dark period of time.
Twas the week before Christmas
But nobody knew.
No stockings, no ornaments,
No gifts or good news.
All the world had lost hope
All the people felt fear..
Now listen, I’ll tell you
Why Christmas came near.
When Emmanuel came He was so much more than anyone anticipated. Far more than an earthly king who would deliver them from the tyranny they had endured for centuries, Jesus came to deliver them and us from our bondage to sin. And even better He came to be with us forever, the meaning of the name Emmanuel.
He is not a God who is wandering the galaxies, but He is here, still on earth, living within all who have welcomed Him into the home of their hearts.
Marking the Sundays of Advent is a way that we can practice this same patience. I love to tell moms, “It’s better to do even some lessons than never start and choose after all to do none.” To help you have a meaningful time with your family, we are posting four short, easy Advent devotions every Friday until Christmas. Here’s a link to Week 1 in case you missed it!
Like stringing pearls on a cord one by one, God linked beautiful hints of His gift to come one by one for His people to cling to in hope. Some of those pearls of recognition were the names in each stanza of this hymn:
- O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse,
- Thou Day Spring,
- Thou Key of David, and
- Thou Lord of might.
Watching and waiting for this coming One, the Man of many names, grew patience in His people.
Jesus told us to have faith like a child. At Christmas we can become a child again as we allow anticipation to grow in our faith, and as we wait for the day of His birth, remembering that He will come again.
Do you know Him? Will you welcome Him, the miracle of Christmas? Will you sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” as a prayer from your heart?
May you and your family make eternal decisions, gifts for Jesus the King.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!