One evening this week as I was driving through town, I passed a church with a giant banner out in their yard that said, "We're expecting a baby!"
I was in a hurry, so I didn't get a good look at the sign other than those four giant words. As I slowed at the stop light just around the corner, I wondered who in the church was important enough that the whole church was anticipating their baby. Maybe the pastor? We would never put a sign like that out at our church.
As the light turned green, and I sped away, it hit me. "Aaaahhh!" I said out loud. It's Jesus. They are expecting baby Jesus.
People from all over world are expecting that birth again this year, laboring with Mary and Joseph for the baby to be born.
But that waiting is symbolic. He already was born. The labor ended, a boy was birthed, they called him Jesus, the angels sang, the shepherds came, and the magi from the East brought gifts. We wait each year - we relive these events and imagine that starry night - but in reality it's over.
Yet, we're still waiting for Jesus.
A sign that says, "We're expecting a baby!" is a more palatable announcement to make to a world passing by at 45 mph than a sign that says, "We're expecting a Judge!" or "We're expecting God in all his might!" or even "The end is near."
Though the real waiting won't end with a baby being born, we are still laboring as we wait. The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
As Advent draws to an end and our season of waiting turns to joy as we celebrate God with us, I am always a little disappointed that I feel so disappointed, that I'm still groaning. The twinkle lights and candles didn't ease the burden, nor did the gifts or gatherings. The eggnog and fudge brought more regret than relief, and even giving to the poor and needy, which we all know should be the real acts of the season, helped only a few. There are still so many poor and needy.
I am still so poor and needy.
And so once again, this Advent waiting has brought me back to the real meaning of Christmas: the Gospel.
I am a sinner unable to atone for my sins.
God is holy unable to receive me in my sin.
God sent His Son Jesus to bridge the gap.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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