Jesus Is Coming – What Do We Expect?

Expectant Mary - Jan Haynes from Townsville Australia

Expectant Mary - Jan Haynes from Townsville Australia

Jesus is Coming: What Do We Expect? 

Christmas is coming bringing with it the hope and long of the birth of Christ, but what are we really expecting? This is a question that revolves in my mind as I prepare to celebrate Advent and Christmas this year. This is probably the most widely celebrated festival in the world, attracting the attention of Christian and non Christian alike. The expectations of Christmas can be overwhelming and it is often hard to separate our own selfish wishes from the desires for intimacy that God has placed deep within our hearts. The frenetic pace of our celebrations often stands in stark contrast to the message Christ proclaims in the gospels.

The consumer culture has huge expectations at this season, Stores everywhere are festooned with lights, blaring with Christmas music and overstuffed with merchandise. They expect that over the next few weeks we will spend more money than we have in the preceding eleven and hope that our consumer exuberance will boost their flagging fortunes.

Our churches too have great expectations for Advent and Christmas. They hope that our remembrance of the birth of a baby in a stable in an obscure Palestinian village two thousand year ago will rekindle our enthusiasm for participation in their failing programs and lack lustre events.

So what am I expecting this Advent? This is my favourite season of the church year but it is also the most challenging. I am torn between the hype of the secular culture telling me to party and enjoy myself and my yearning for a deeper walk with Christ. This I know is a time to remind myself of who Christ is and why following him is the most important priority in my life. It forces me to take stock of the year that has passed and evaluate all that has distracted me from a wholehearted commitment to God and God’s purposes.

Above all I am expecting to be changed by a fresh encounter with Christ during this Advent season. That is both an exciting and a scary thought. Knowing that the Christ child is coming is one thing, looking and listening for the signs that show me he is coming is easy. It is the encounter with who he is and what he wants to do in my life that is hard. Opening myself to be changed is never easy.  Herod knew that the Messiah was coming but he did not want to meet him in fact he wanted to kill him. The Pharisees too knew that the messiah was coming but even when the saw the signs in the heavens and heard the rumours of his birth they made no effort to go and meet him.

It was the foreigners from afar who stepped out of their comfort zones and made that gruelling journey to Bethlehem to see the child who would become the saviour of our world. And they too were changed in ways that we can only imagine returning “by another route” that led them far away from the Herods’ and rulers of this world.

So much in my life still needs to be changed by the challenge of a God of love for whom justice, mercy and compassion are more important than right doctrine and theological correctness. I want to learn to follow that God with every fibre of my being and with every aspect of my life. More than that I want to learn to trust this God in new ways know that he will never leave nor forsake me. Trusting that no matter what the future holds, my life is always in his hands.

This post is my contribution to the synchroblog – jesus Is Coming What Do We Expect? Tomorrow I will post links to others that have contributed and will then start posting additional contributions throughout Advent. I hope that you will continue to walk through this season with us.