The season is Advent, which means “coming.” The days are growing shorter and the nights are growing longer. The cold is in the air, and if it has not snowed, we wonder if it will. There is green everywhere you go, from mistletoe to holly to evergreens decorated for the season. There are lights to dazzle and songs of Christmas in the air. And in the night, children dream of sugar plums and impatiently wait for the coming of… Santa.
Do we know the one we are waiting for? Do we know the one who is coming?
The one we await said, “Let there be light,” and that light first dazzled the dark. The Johns told us about him, the Baptist and the gospel writer. The one said we need to make our paths straight. But how easy is that? It cannot be done when the Law given through Moses shows us every curve, side-step, rut and bump in our lives. Thank God the other one said that the one who came and will come again has satisfied the law in us with grace and truth. We have grace in place of the grace already given, he tells us.
But we are of the world. Are we able to recognize him? We think of ourselves as his own, but will we truly receive him, or just say we do while we hum Jingle Bells? These are heady thoughts for those of us who are caught up in the flashy, mind-bending Christmas going on all around us. Focus, I say, but it is not easy. The Word became flesh, but I was not there. They might have seen his glory. I suspect that is something more impressive than the dazzle that surrounds me, but I have not seen it, have you? Better yet, do you want to see it?
Do you want to see the glory of the Lord? Do you want to sing with choirs of heavenly angels – not just for that special, once-per-year candlelight moment, but forever? Or shall we be content with the jolly man and his eight reindeer and a passing fancy of substitute joy that will wither in the new year as it does every year? Focus, I say, but my crooked nature is so easily distracted.
Sigh. Don’t you know we are not worthy? No, not one of us can really focus. Christ alone is worthy, and those who receive him and are born in him are made worthy through him alone. That is not to say “born” in a natural, literal, human sense. Not by a husband’s will or a wife’s choice or any human decision. But born by the Holy Spirit in a kind of reverse of the one who gave up Heaven to be made flesh and blood, to be born on that day we are waiting for. He is the one who is coming again, and I doubt he will be dressed in a jolly red suit. And what is a sugar plum, anyway?
So we wait, and we dream and wait some more. But for whom are we waiting? Do we know the one who is coming?