Last weekend the first strings of light were stretched across rooftops, lawns and windows. They punctuated the otherwise dark neighborhood with brilliant flashes of light. And, with each passing day, other houses added their glow.
This weekend we pulled the Christmas boxes from the attic where they have been patiently waiting since they were packed away last January. Candles, candy canes and crocheted snowmen took their places, surrendering center stage to the nativity. The branches of the tree that stands proudly in the window bowed with the weight of memories: cardboard stars that were cut out by chubby little hands long ago, names printed on them with backward letters; ornaments that remind us of vacations where we laughed and played. We hung stockings on the fireplace mantle, annual symbols of expectation. They once held the names of our children. This year, they bear the names of our four grandchildren, reminding us of their sparkling eyes and heart-melting smiles.
A large part of Christmas is preparation, expectation and anticipation. It feels right to me. That is the way God sent his Son, after centuries of preparation, expectation and anticipation.
The prophets foretold His coming centuries before. From Genesis to Revelation, the Scripture points to Him. Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14). “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6).
The Bible says that when Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary took the child to Jerusalem where they met some remarkable people who had been waiting a long time for this moment. They met an old man named Simeon who had been waiting for many years for God’s promised Messiah. The Spirit of God had revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ. When he saw the child, Jesus, he took the baby in his arms and blessed God saying, “My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-35).
Mary and Joseph had hardly recovered from Simeon’s amazing declaration before they met Anna, an eighty-four year old widow who had been fasting and praying in the Temple for years waiting for the Messiah. “At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38)
I guess that is why I like this time of year with all the decorations. It reminds me of God’s preparation and God’s promise. It reminds me of the One who is worth waiting for! He has come, and He is coming!