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Posts Tagged ‘Anticipation for Christmas’

The Christmas season is well underway at our house. The tree is lit and ornamented,

 

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other decorations are in place,

 

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some of the Christmas cards are complete as well as some of the shopping.

But none of this would matter much if the whole family were not able to gather in just a few weeks. Eager expectation mounts for the noise and laughter, thought-provoking conversations, fabulous meals (prepared by several gourmet cooks in the family), and more.

 

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I actually find much to enjoy just in the anticipation of all this activity. In my imagination I visualize joyful faces, hear the good-natured teasing, smell the wonderful aromas wafting from the kitchen, and feel the warmth and camaraderie of loved ones who even like each other.

Our spirits are lifted as we relish these sublime moments–even before they’ve become reality–because pleasant anticipation is…

 

“..that sanguine expectation of happiness

which is happiness itself.”

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

 

But there is much to be said for delightful surprises as well, when:

  • The florist delivers a fragrant Christmas centerpiece from friends.
  • The doorbell announces the arrival of uninvited guests–carolers.
  • The check at a restaurant is paid for by friends who happen to be dining at another table.
  • An unexpected, especially thoughtful gift is drawn out from behind the tree.

 

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Our hearts beat a little faster, and feel-good endorphins flood the system.

How glorious that the story of the first Christmas gives us both: delicious anticipation and delightful surprises.

First, the anticipation:

  • Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the prophets foretold his coming, including his birth to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), his birthplace in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), his ancestry from the house of David (Isaiah 11:1-2), and more.
  • Devout Jews such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) had waited all their lives for the Messiah to come. Their eager expectation was finally fulfilled with the birth of Jesus.

 

Simeon

 

Then the story includes several surprises.

  • Imagine yourself occupied in ordinary tasks on an ordinary day, when the angel, Gabriel, appears out of nowhere, telling you not to be afraid. (Impossible under the circumstances!)  Imagine hearing the words, “You will be the mother of the Son of the Most High.”

Or,

  • An angel visits you in a dream to explain that the baby boy your fiancé is carrying was put there by the power of the Holy Spirit. (I wonder if Joseph asked the angel to please repeat his message?)
  • Picture yourself as a shepherd, drowsily watching your flock at night, when POOF! An angel appears, casting ethereal light all around you and announcing the birth of the long-awaited Messiah, the Lord of all. He’s finally here! And his birth is being declared to you—lowly shepherds at the bottom of the social strata. You try to absorb the news while your heart hammers in your chest.

 

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Whichever you prefer—anticipation of the expected or out-of-nowhere surprises—the season offers opportunity for both.

We look forward to the well-loved traditions, familiar carols, and warm family gatherings. These activities can surely be counted among God’s precious gifts to us.

And just as the Jews longingly looked toward the coming of their Messiah, so we anticipate the second Advent or coming of Jesus, when he will begin his reign as the King of kings.

And if you prefer surprises, remember: God still performs wonders and miracles! In fact, he loves to display his glory as he works for our ultimate good in ways we don’t expect.

Perhaps our best attitude is to embrace them both.

Delicious anticipation embodies hope; delightful surprise unfolds into great joy.

 

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(Art & photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg (3), gift:  www.dreamstime.com; Simeon:  www.deliveredbygrace.com; angel visitation: http://www.freerepublic.com; hope and joy:  www.etsy.com.)

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