This morning my younger daughter greeted my wife and me by saying – It is Christmas Eve Eve Eve!
There are three days until Christmas but who is counting? Well, my daughter for one. I remember the days of counting down the days. We had paper-link chains, popcorn on string, and Advent calendars. Each was a method of taking one piece or thing away so you could see how close the holiday was getting. I must admit that I was totally ignorant of the concept and season of Advent during those years. As a result I came to believe that Advent was simply one type of chocolate that only came at Christmas.
Today my daughter’s greeting of “It is Christmas Eve Eve Eve” reminds me of when I would beg to open gifts early, I would claim an inability to wait (although it seems waiting did not kill me as I supposed it would), and I would do my best to guess what was in the packages under the tree. The days went by with what seemed an unbearable slowness and the anticipated Joy of Christmas morning kept my brother and me in eager anticipation. We waited with full knowledge and assurance that on that day something great was going to happen.
This thought brings me back to Advent. Just as I did not understand it when I was a child, it appears the majority of the world – particularly Christians, does not understand it today. Advent is overshadowed by Christmas and its purpose is lost in the rush toward the holiday that includes gifts. You see, Advent is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation, a time to look forward to the day when Jesus Christ will return to make His Kingdom complete. Christians can, with full knowledge and assurance, await the day knowing that something great will happen. At the first Advent, Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, God directly intervened in the history of mankind and initiated a redemptive mystery. At the Second Advent Christ will return. We “will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:30-31)
We want to rush into Christmas. We want to return to what we already know – Jesus was born. Why is it we do not want to watch for the Second Advent? Why do we rush past and ignore the anticipation? Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Could you not watch one hour?” (Mark 14:37) We should be in constant anticipation of Jesus’ return – every hour of every day. Instead there are a few short weeks that we set aside to be our observance of Advent – can we not watch for Him for a few short days?
There are only a few days (3 at the time of this writing) of Advent left. Push pause on Christmas and think about the truth of the State of our Nation and the need for redemption. It is coming, the Bible promises us that, but do you long for it? Does your heart say – It is Christmas Eve Eve Eve, about the second coming of Christ and the consummation of His Kingdom as much as a child’s heart anticipates the opening of gifts under a tree?
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.