- School to be out for the holidays.
- Presents to be wrapped.
- Stockings to be hung.
- Food to be prepared.
- Family to arrive.
- The day to come.
- Traditions to be fulfilled.
- Presents to be opened.
- Fun to be had.
As a young boy, I was terrible at waiting. And that was especially true around Christmas. Despite the opportunity to mark up the Sears catalog indicating the gifts I hoped to receive, I didn't like to wait. Once, I didn't wait!
That awful Christmas, I got up in the middle of the night and snuck into the den where the tree was lighted. Under the colored lights, I took my sharp pocket knife and cut through the tape on one of my presents. I couldn't wait! I "had" to peek and see what the gift was. This present was the largest, most odd-shaped gift under the tree. I had no idea what it was. So, I opened it!
Once I did, I was immediately wracked with guilt. Instantly, disappointment flooded my greedy little heart because it wasn't that something I had asked to receive. Then, to my distress, I suddenly realized that I had to find some clear tape in the middle of our dark house, not wake my parents, and seal back the wrapping paper on the gift I had opened. I also decided NOT to open any more presents. My furtive exploits had only led to profound disappointment. When Christmas Eve finally came and we opened our presents, I got to relive my whole debacle because I had to fake surprise at my gift and lie about how glad I was to get it.
Waiting was the primary backdrop for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. God's people had waited centuries for the promised Messiah. A thousand years passed between the reign of King David and the coming of the Son of David, Christ our Lord. Hundreds of years of subjugation and suffering haunted God's people of Israel while people prayed for the Messiah to come.
Even the hosts of heaven waited! Quoting from Scripture, "Even angels long to look into these things," (1 Peter 1:12), my beloved professor, Dr. Neil Lightfoot, used to say: "Angels stood on tiptoe longing to look over the horizon of history to see when the long-awaited Messiah was going to come!" If the angels stood on tiptoe, then a host of seekers longed for the coming of the Messiah to Israel. When we open the first two chapters of both Matthew and Luke, we see real people, precious people, joining the angels on tiptoe, waiting! S favorite of mine of these people in waiting is Simeon, a devout man who had waited a long time for the first Christmas to come:
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!(Luke 2:25-32 NLT)
So this season of short waiting is good if we will open our heart to the anticipation of our Lord's coming again to us... fresh... new... and precious. While most of us realize Jesus likely wasn't born this time of year and that Christmas day is not his real birthday, it can be his re-birth in our hearts if we will join Simeon, and the others like him, who joined the angels on tiptoe, waiting for Jesus.
Whatever else you do to wait for Jesus this Christmas, I hope you will join us as we wait, anticipate, and celebrate the coming of our Lord. We will have two ways to enjoy the wait. A series of weekly articles on Wednesday to talk about Jesus' coming and a second series including a video from James Nored that talks about what Jesus' coming means for us.
So, dear friend of Jesus, let's tune our hearts to wait and join the angels on tiptoe in anticipation as we invite Jesus to be born fresh in us this Christmas!