Image taken on my trip to Paris in the Christmas season of 2012-2013.
This is short article I wrote for our church’s newsletter this week, and I decided to use it as my blog post during a busy Thanksgiving weekend. Blessings to you and your loved ones in this joyous season!
This time last year, I stood in church alongside you all and sang Christmas carols. In my heart was a secret and joyful expectation. Travis and I were expecting a child. It was still very early in the pregnancy, and we hadn’t shared the news yet. We were waiting to tell our family at Christmas, the perfect time to rejoice in the coming of a precious child. As I sang of the silent, holy night when Christ was born and Mary’s honored role in the coming of redemption, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of closeness with Mary in my own expectation of a little one.
Christmas is a wonderful time of expectation. As children, we grow up giddy with anticipation for stockings, presents, Christmas lights and goodies. As adults, our joyful expectation often shifts to seeing the delight on our children’s faces and spending precious time around the tree and table with loved ones. Ultimately, that feeling of expectation is intended to draw our hearts to the Long Expected One, Jesus Christ. We prepare for weeks to celebrate His birth and allow the anticipation of the holiday to build up, I imagine, in a microcosm of the expectant joy that burst forth from the angels as they sang “Glory to God!” the night Christ was born.
Expectation is a God-given feeling that is intended to draw us to Him. Our feelings of expectation, however, are often misplaced. It’s a sad reality that the season of Christmas can often be one of great depression . Whether it be sinful envy and greed, the stress and busyness of holidays or fear, grief and loneliness that mar the delight of the season, often our expectations are disappointed. Not only is this true at Christmas, but throughout our lives, we put our hope in other people, our dreams, careers, health and even our things, and we are disappointed. We can become bitter and jaded, unable to rejoice in the gifts of this season.
What Christ offers us at Christmas time (and any time!) is a hope and expectation that will not be disappointed. With His birth, salvation has come. His life, and ultimately His death and resurrection, give us a real expectation of forgiveness, reconciliation, freedom from sin and death, the guidance and power of the Spirit and the Word, and eternal joy. When we put our expectation first firmly in Him, we are able to allow our hearts to fully embrace the joyful anticipation of the season. We can take our struggle with envy, fear, grief or loneliness to the One who came to bring joy to the world, peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Then the lights, the gifts and the warm family moments can all be used to remind our expectant hearts of His love.