The Hope in Anticipation
"The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting." -Andy Warhol
Every year, right when December 1st hits, I start to get excited. Christmas is my favorite holiday season and there is nothing better than it getting colder, days getting shorter, drinks getting warmer and the glow of lights going up in our neighborhood. Even as I’ve grown older (so, more skeptical and cynical...) there’s something so disarming about diving into old Christmas movies, seeing every story end with the happy families being together, presents being opened and the sticky bandits being caught (Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, 1992).
All of this serves to build anticipation. Advent calendars countdown the days...the tree starts to be filled with presents...friends and family come into town. The anticipation of what is to come brings a different kind of excitement. As I’ve grown older, I have begun to anticipate the celebration of Jesus entering the world. I look forward to being reminded of the miraculous nature of God sending his Son, in human flesh, to be born in a stable.
But what if we started a Christmas movie marathon in late January? What if we bought a Christmas tree the first week of February and put up Christmas lights everywhere? It would feel disjointed right? The sense of anticipation is lost and it almost feels ‘wrong’ to picture watching the Grinch after you’ve gone back to school or work…
Sometimes it feels like the anticipation for Christ has already passed. Like we’re living more in “January” rather than on “December 1st.” We have this Good News, we hear it each week in church, but we don’t have the same excitement for what’s next. Most days it feels like we’re looking backwards, thinking about what happened a long time ago. Most days it feels like we’re looking back to the good ol’ days of “December 1st” when people had something to look forward to.
We know as we begin the advent season that Emmanuel means “God is with us” - but how quickly do we lose the anticipation of the coming Kingdom? How quickly do we forget that our brothers and sisters in Christ possess the Holy Spirit, and by that, represent daily God’s presence in this world? We spend more time looking back, thinking about what it must have been like to live in that anticipation of the coming Messiah, and forget that we have a family around us, that has been given the gift of furthering His Kingdom by being the very embodiment of that Messiah.
Brothers and sisters, may we begin this advent season with a fresh sense of anticipation. May we wake up every morning and feel the presence of Emmanuel because we can see the image of God in the community around us. I want us to no longer feel like we are watching Christmas movies in January, but instead, living with the anticipatory hope of December 1st.
What does it look like for us to experience the presence of God in one another and by that, begin to anticipate His Kingdom more?