With great anticipation
That’s what Christmas is about.
Anticipation keeps children from sleeping as they anxiously count down the hours until they’re allowed to open their presents.
Anticipation brings new grandmother to the airport hours early as she paces and awaits the family’s imminent arrival.
Anticipation forces us to imagine what things will be like — what will happen when we finally meet what we have been waiting for.
Anticipation breeds anxiety.
As we anticipate, we develop ideas, mental pictures of what we expect, but as we start to realize things could go unexpectedly, that’s when we become uneasy.
The night Jesus was born in the overflow space of an overcrowded inn, everything that the world had anticipated hope to be arrived.
But probably not in the package those waiting were expecting.
They wanted a king. A savior. God promised a Messiah. What they got was a baby.
And that made everyone a little uneasy.
But this baby, so small and helpless with his pink little hands and quiet whimpers was exactly what God promised. This little baby Jesus was the beginning of hope. This baby would be king.
Jesus was born to an unmarried teenager — a young woman who could barely comprehend what she was being entrusted with, but for nine months anticipated his arrival.
The first book of Luke records the song of praise Mary sang after the angel declared the good news to her:
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
In this baby Jesus was born a tiny king who was nothing like any king before him. He was poor. By political standards, he was powerless. Yet the powerful feared him. They even tried to kill him.
Because he made them uneasy.
Those awaiting Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to rescue them expected a warrior king and they got a baby. A baby that would grow up to be a teacher. And a rabbi. But not a king. Not the kind of king they expected, anyway.
And his promise to save them? It included not only them, but everyone else too. He came not for vengeance but for reconciliation. For justice, but the kind of justice that flows directly into grace.
When that little baby was born he came with a mission to show us how right creation should have been before it all went awry. He came to make us uncomfortable with ourselves so we would know how much we needed him. He, the greatest gift we could ever anticipate, is God with us.
On this day we declare God is made known, and will be made known. He is the anticipation of hope promised.
May we remember that today, as we celebrate his birth.
SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.