As I write this, we are now only thirteen days away from Christmas. The older I get, I hope for more time before Christmas comes, because there is so much that still needs to get done (or so I think). But when I was a child, it seemed like Christmas would never get here. Children have a hard time waiting for Christmas. A number of years ago I came across some actual letters that anxious children wrote to Santa.
"Dear Santa Claus, When you come to my house there will be cookies for you. But if you’re real hungry you can use our phone and order a pizza to go." "Dear Santa, I want a puppy. I want a playhouse. Thank you. I’ve been good most of the time. Sometimes I’m wild." Here’s one from an honest four-year old: "Dear Santa, I’ll take anything because I haven’t been that good." "Dear Santa, I’m not going to ask for a lot. Here’s my list: the Etch-A-Sketch animator, two packs of #2 pencils, Crayola fat markers and the big gift...my own color TV! Well, maybe you could drop the pencils; I don’t want to be really selfish."
Christmas is often associated with waiting in anticipation. I can remember one Christmas as a child when I really wanted a bicycle and a G.I. Joe. I dropped hints everywhere. I talked about it every chance I had. I even tried extra hard to be nice to my sister during the countdown to Christmas which wasn’t easy to do! When Christmas morning finally came, I jumped out of bed and ran to my folks’ bedroom to wake them up. My sister came into the room about the same time, and we all went in by the tree to open our presents. Sure enough, one of my presents was a G.I. Joe. I was thrilled! But I didn’t see a bike. We got through unwrapping our gifts, but there was no bike. And then my dad said, “Oh, wait, I think there’s one present left downstairs.” I ran downstairs, and to my great surprise, my waiting was over.
So what are you waiting for? Are you longing for anything? What are you expecting to receive? Are you looking forward to anything special this Christmas?
In the Gospel of Luke, we come across two characters that make their appearance in the final acts of the Christmas drama. One is a man named Simeon, and the other is a woman named Anna. They don’t appear in any nativity scenes or in many Christmas cards, but they are significant players in the first Christmas pageant. Both of these individuals were waiting for something -- actually, they were waiting for Someone.
Luke uses a Greek word, prosdechomai, that speaks of anticipation. The word identifies them as waiting with expectation for the coming of the Messiah or Savior. It literally means they were “alert to His appearance, and ready to welcome Him.” We see this word in Luke 2:25 in reference to Simeon where we read that “He was waiting...” and in Luke 2:38 to describe Anna speaking to all who were “...looking forward to...” or “waiting.” They had been waiting for years for the coming of the Messiah, and they were there to receive Him when He came.
That one Christmas when I was a kid, I only had to wait a few months for that bike and that G. I. Joe. But when the moment came, I was ready to receive those gifts. Simeon and Anna were waiting for decades, but they were still there ready to receive the gift of Jesus.
And now, we, too, are waiting. We may be waiting for that new job or that upcoming wedding or for good news from the doctor or for our marriage to get better. All of these would be wonderful gifts to receive, wouldn’t they? But as wonderful as they may be, they pale in comparison to the gift of Jesus.
This Christmas season, may we be found waiting for Him. May we be "alert to His appearance, and ready to welcome Him." May we receive Him into our hearts, lives, and families, and through His presence within us, may we share His love with all around us. Merry Christmas.