Think back and remember what it was like to be a child during the weeks of December.
The excitement! The anticipation! The anxiety! Will what we wanted be there under the tree on Christmas morning?
It must be even harder for children today. Television has been building up hopes and dreams for quite a few weeks now.
Will the toy, the game, the latest electronic necessity be unwrapped come Christmas Day?
In the Church, the four weeks leading up to Christmas is known as Advent.
Advent is a time of waiting. It’s the season of the Christian year that is filled with anticipation and excitement.
In it, we look back to the people of the Old Testament who were waiting eagerly for God to act on their behalf.
They expected Him to send them a saviour, someone who would restore their fortunes and give them what they wanted.
Like many of the children eagerly anticipating what they will find on Christmas morning, they had a clear idea of what it was they wanted. They had clear expectations of what it was that God would do.
The gift they and the world received on Christmas Day wasn’t really anything like their desires, and so they were disappointed. Yet Jesus, the baby born in Bethlehem, was a greater gift than they could ever have imagined.
So in Advent, the Church looks to Christmas and remembers the waiting that preceded it.
The Church also thinks about Jesus’ promise that he would return one day.
Now, for the early Church, this was a very lively hope. The first Christians expected to see Jesus return in their lifetime.
However, as time went by, they began to realise this wasn’t what Jesus must have meant.
Nonetheless, the expectation that he will come back one day has always been part of the Christian faith.
As the millennia have passed, this remains an expectation of the Church. So, during Advent, we look forward to that promise being fulfilled and the return of Jesus. This is another aspect of our Advent waiting.
Of course, through the years, there have been many predictions of when Jesus will return. None of them have been correct.
At the same time, there are many branches of the Christian Church which have very definite expectations of just what will happen when he does return.
Perhaps they should take note of what happened at that first coming. God did something unexpected.
I suspect that, when Jesus does return, it will be very different to anything we expect.
In addition, those who expect some kind of terrible Armageddon should remember that, when God came to the world the first time, He did so in love.
Why would love not be the manner of His return?
We can never know what God will do but, because of Jesus, we do know He has our good at heart.
God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform!