|“Come, Thou long expected Jesus, |
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.” 1
Half the fun of Christmas is the anticipation. Perhaps people begin shopping so early because of this phenomenon.
I can remember as a child when we would get the Sears Christmas Catalog in the mail. The glossy, colorful pages, filled with amazing toys, sparkling decorations, and festive clothing only increased the eagerness for my sister and me.
As the years have rolled by, I confess that I anticipate Christmas in different ways than I did as a child. No longer do the gifts matter so much. Quiet reflection while listening to glorious music, get-togethers with family and friends, and remembrances of Christmases past make for a much more satisfying holiday season for a grown-up me.
In Luke 2:25-35 we read the story of a righteous and devout man in Jerusalem who had been waiting for the consolation of Israel. He anticipated the birth of Jesus because the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the new-born King. When he entered the temple courts and saw the baby and His parents, Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. In his short message to the new parents, he said, “Now I can die in peace.”
Can you remember, as a child, the let-down after Christmas? I do. Yes, I had a bunch of new things, but the anticipation was over. What I looked forward to didn’t satisfy me the way I thought it would! The toys broke, or their appeal soon faded. The new clothes only delighted me as I wore them a few times. And, the decorations and Christmas music now seemed old. I actually looked forward to getting back to the “normal” of everyday life.
How different the results of Simeon’s anticipation. The baby didn’t disappoint him. This Gift, expected and hoped for, came to save the people of Israel from their sins and reveal to the Gentiles the glory of Israel’s God.
As you reflect on the Christmas story this year, look past the human experiences of the season, even the story itself, to the One who came to know you, to forgive and redeem you, and to make you His very own. Anticipate the joy of spending more time with Him, to really know Him, and to meditate on His promises of a covenant love that will last forever.
Romans 5:5 tells us that our anticipation of the glory of God in our lives will be fulfilled. It states:
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
In your anticipation of Christmas this year, above all the other attention-grabbing elements, take the time to settle in, and, with great anticipation, look for the Gift that God has given all humankind. Truly, Jesus is the Gift that will never disappoint!
|1 Wesley, Charles. Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, Public Domain.|