For a long time my wife has wanted a giant Christmas card to display in our yard during the holidays. She discussed the project with a local artist friend, but he moved before anything beyond talk ever happened. Then we lost touch. The Christmas card vision languished but never died.
Then we met another artist. She and my wife agreed on a price, and my wife started saving her money. The artist began work on it two and a half years ago, anticipating a Christmas unveiling. But other projects superseded our Christmas card.
The artist delivered it the following summer, just before we moved. The next Christmas—last Christmas—we were between houses so the long-awaited Christmas card remained secluded for another year.
That brings us to the present. It is advent. We have a house and we have the card, coinciding with Christmas for the first time. At long last my wife’s greeting card is on display, welcoming everyone who drives by. It was a long wait.
It was an even longer wait for the first Christmas. For centuries the prophets foretold of the coming Immanuel, the one who would be “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
Year after year, decade after decade, they waited in anticipation for the promised one. Their advent lasted most of a millennia.
Finally he came, but most of the people who yearned for his arrival missed it. They were expecting something else, someone else, not a tiny baby born in a barn to dirt-poor parents. After centuries of waiting for Christmas, it came and went with barely any notice
Before we criticize them too harshly we should pause for a moment of introspection.
Today we struggle with the same issue. The trappings of Christmas have ballooned out of proportion, overshadowing the baby who came to be God with us. With the decorations, the parties, the presents, and the family traditions it’s easy to forget the real reason we celebrate.
It’s all about Jesus—or at least it should be.
Are you waiting for Christmas? Will Jesus be the center of your celebration?
May your Christmas be a joyous one.
Discover more about celebrating Jesus and his birth in Peter’s new book, The Advent of Jesus.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.