Friday, December 23, 2011

Anticipating the End

Christmas is different this year. Somehow. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's because I wasn't home to decorate the tree with my family, or to dig out the Christmas CDs once again, or to bake dozens of Christmas cookies for family and friends, or to light the Advent candles each night in anticipation of the Saviour's birth. Those differences may factor into the unfamiliar feeling that Christmas has this year, but I don't think those are the main reasons. Things are changing, and it does make family traditions feel different, but this year I'm beginning to understand, for the first time, that what makes Christmas Christmas is the One who will never change.

Christmas. We have so many fond memories of Christmas, memories that revolve around family, tradition, and goodwill toward men. What happens when Christmas no longer involves family or familiar traditions? I missed out on many of my family's traditions this year because of being away at school, and in future years it is possible that I might not be at home for Christmas at all. Christmas is, first and foremost, a celebration of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and this is something that can be celebrated in any place, and in any way. In the weeks before Christmas I found the subject of the incarnation coming up over and over again in my college classes, and right alongside it was a hope that I had never paired with Christ's birth before - the hope of His return.

I don't know why this simple parallel escaped my notice for so long. Ever since I was a young girl my family has celebrated the birth of Christ and the wonder of the incarnation during the month of December, but never before had I so clearly understood that the celebration of His first coming ought to result in heightened anticipation of His second coming. The events that surrounded Christ's birth amaze and astonish me year after year. What will His return be like? I'm sure it will leave us speechless. The New Testament begins with the genealogy of Christ and the account of His birth, but as we look back on when He first interrupted the course of history let us not forget the end of the story.

"Surely I am coming soon." -Jesus

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

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