We have all experienced the excitement of the anticipation of a special event. Maybe this was a long-awaited holiday, birth of a child, a birthday celebration, a wedding day, an opening night of a performance or a debut game. Behind this anticipation there is a lot of planning and preparation. Sometimes this planning has been in progress for a significant period of time, maybe many months and even years. When the ‘big day/event’ arrives and then passes by, we may feel a sense of emptiness as the preoccupation of our focus on this special occasion is no longer present or required.
We are approaching Christmas, a recurring special celebration that happens on the 25th December each year. For me, the anticipation of this special day has changed over the years. When I was young, the anticipation was centered around the exchange of gifts between family and friends. Sometimes there was even the disappointment and devastation that a special gift/toy received broke soon after it was used. Now for me, the focus and anticipation of Christmas is centred around the most amazing gift that anyone could ever imagine, the gift of a child. But this is not just any child, it is the Christ Child, Jesus. Luke’s Gospel tells us:
‘In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.’
This all seems unremarkable, but it was the fulfilment of God’s promise that a Saviour would be born, and this Saviour would ultimately give His life so that all who believe in Him may have life eternal. There surely is no greater gift than this.
So, when we celebrate this Christmas, it is my prayer that we experience the gifts of joy, peace, hope and love that come from the miracle of the birth of Jesus, and that we in turn share these gifts with others.
As an old Irish Blessings says:
“May you be blessed
With the spirit of the season, which is peace,
The gladness of the season, which is hope,
And the heart of the season, which is love.”
As I approach this Christmas I also do very much look forward in anticipation to celebration with family and friends and being able to share special time together. May you likewise also look forward in anticipation to your Christmas.