As a kid there was nothing better than Christmas. Christmas was everything! I loved the songs, the snow, the traditions, the food, and obviously the presents. I loved how everyone’s attitudes began to shift and people were more hopeful, generous, and gracious. The television shows changed. The radio stations changed. Decorations changed. It was awesome!
I still feel a little bit like a 9 year old boy when it starts to snow and I hear Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole on the radio. The entire season leading up to Christmas has always been one of the highlights of my year.
Sometimes in church I heard grown ups call this season Advent. We had an Advent calendar in my house. It was a cloth calendar that hung on the wall. For each day on the calendar there was a little pocket. There was a little stuffed animal mouse that you would move to the next pocket each day. I remember being excited when I was the one who got to move the mouse. Each day the mouse moved closer and closer to Christmas and the anticipation within me would build.
As a kid, I thought Advent was part of the Christmas season. Advent is actually what comes before Christmas. According to history and the Christian calendar, Christmas starts on December 25th and lasts for 12 days. Maybe you’ve sung about that before without really knowing what it was about.
Advent Sunday marks the beginning of the year on the Christian Calendar. This is a time of waiting. It’s a time of anticipation for the Messiah and reminds us that there was a time when Jesus had not yet come. It also reminds us that there is a day when He will come again.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’”
Israel was waiting in anticipation for the righteous Branch to come up and execute justice. Israel needed justice more than ever. Not since being exiled in Babylon had they needed a savior so intently. The Roman rule over them was oppressive. God had been silent for hundreds of years. The people of Israel had become desperate for the Messiah. That desperation had led to an anticipation that seems difficult to fathom today. If God was going to send their savior, there was no better time.
We are waiting as well. We are waiting for Jesus to come again. This season of advent is a time to reflect on what it must have been like to wait for the Messiah. It’s a time to reflect on what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to wait for the birth of Jesus. It’s also time for us to reflect of the anticipation of Christ coming again.