“…This night is the long night, when those who listen await His cry.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. But Christmas Day itself is, in many ways, anti-climactic for me:
– Modern scholarship reveals that Jesus was likely born in the Spring. So while I have no problem celebrating his birth at the Winter Solstice, I’m not particularly attached to December 25th either.
– Traditions in my childhood home (including the fact it was my father’s birthday) tended to focus more on Christmas Eve.
– I’m of a personality type that tends toward the “half-empty” view of things, and so Christmas Day represents the “end” of a season of anticipation.
It’s this last reason that captures my attention today, December 24th: Anticipation. Desire. Hope.
Throughout church history, the evening BEFORE Christmas has received at least as much attention as Christmas Day itself. Many of you will attend a church service TONIGHT, but stay home tomorrow. Why? What it is it about the still, chilly watches of the night, dimly lit by fire, candles or small twinkling lights? What is it about the whispered promise that something is coming?
Friends, I call to you on this day of utmost anticipation, THE Day of longing, THE Day set aside to strain our ears for the child’s cry, to force our bodies into that forward posture of eager attention, THE Day of the intense quiet, narrowed vision, when time slows to a halt and our very being stretches out to touch that which has not yet appeared…and remember…
…Do not forsake that longing. Do not rush past the desire. Do not hurry to the outcome. The world would tell us that Desire must either be quenched or instantly satisfied – but in either case, Desire is the enemy; and if Desire becomes the enemy, what can we expect to happen to her cousin Hope?
Let it not be so with us.
It is in longing that we are changed. Desire is it’s mechanism. It is in Hope itself that the consummation will one day arrive
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Something wonderful is coming.