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Did Advent Sneak Up on You?

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

Advent began Sunday, the first of four Sundays leading to Christmas. If you are like me, it always sneaks up and leaves me feeling behind from the start.

Maybe it’s because I like to savor Thanksgiving and our once-a-year gathering with extended family that makes me reluctant to move on to Christmas before the Thanksgiving weekend is even over.

I suppose I’m in a tiny minority of those who didn’t do all their Christmas decorating over the Thanksgiving weekend … I just can’t. It’s too much too soon for me. And it obscures my focus on gratitude, which is crucially important.

But Advent reminds us of a much different kind of anticipation for Christmas than the commercialized, consumer-focus of our world. It began last Sunday and it’s okay if you, like me, missed it.

Looking forward to Santa is emphatically not the central theme of Christmas; instead it’s longing for and anticipating the coming of Christ. For many multiplied centuries God’s people waited and hoped for the Messiah who was promised. Praying for His coming; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Anticipation is not just for children, but is a crucial element of grown-up, mature faith. For what is faith if it is not expectation? Believing that God will fulfill His promises without seeing that fulfillment is its essence.

We so easily forget how long God’s people waited for His first coming. For thousands of years God gave clues through a steady stream of messages delivered by His prophets hinting at the time and place where Jesus would come. He was preparing the way.

But then there was a 400-year pregnant pause of silence until “the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4).