Waiting for Christmas is filled with excitement, anticipation, hope, and perhaps anxiety. We have heard the good news – a child is coming! We look forward to both the arrival of the child and he arrival of the holiday of family and giving. How we live in the time of waiting is just as important as the arrival of the event.
Each year we count down Advent. In the early years, I made or bought Advent calendars for my kids. Last year and this year, I hid Advent candies around the house – one for each day. Last year I made up a rhyme with the day’s clue indicating where they could find their treat. This year, with cell-toting teens, I snapped close-up pics of the candies with just enough in the frame to offer a clue as to where they might find them. As Christmas draws near, the candies get bigger and better, adding to the excitement of the arrival of Christmas. We don’t have a lot of money, so the kids don’t get a cornucopia of gifts. Giving treats throughout the Advent season spreads the joy out over weeks. Then they get a couple gifts on Christmas day itself. Despite the treats and gifts, the best part of Christmas isn’t the gifts anymore. What we love about Christmas is the season leading up to it. We bake cookies and listen to Christmas music. We snuggle up together with a fire in the fireplace and watch Christmas specials on TV. Because of the cold, staying in is the new going out. On Christmas day, we all stay in. The day is quiet, and we build puzzles while dinner roasts. We enjoy each other’s company and the season gives us opportunities to be together. A season of waiting is one of the best gifts God has given.
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished.
Ever since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, “How shall we return?”