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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

The Joy of Christmas…Anticipation

December 16th, 2007

While it may be impossible for anyone under age 25 to comprehend, once upon a time there was no Internet. The phrase, “I’ll just buy it online” would have been as nonsensical as “I’ll just buy it on triangle.” Today’s tech savvy kids send their parents an email, complete with hyperlinks to websites with the lowest prices for all the items on their Christmas wish list. Click, click, click. Santa’s on his way.

Back in the day, a child’s Christmas wishing started in mid-October when the JC Penney and Sears Christmas catalogs hit the mailbox. I can still remember tearing off the brown paper sleeve, giddy to see the treasures inside. Kids could instinctively open it to the exact page where the toys started. Lots of time was spent anticipating and dreaming about the gift you wanted. You knew that the Hot Wheels Supercharger race track was on page 298, Item B. By day you dropped hints to Mom and Dad, the subtlety decreasing in proportion to the available shopping days till Christmas. By night you’d fall asleep thinking about what it would be like to see and hear those cars fly around the orange plastic track. Which car would be faster? The Lola GT-70 or the Beatnik Bandit?

And if you were lucky enough to tear off the snowflake wrapping paper and see the present you wished for? There’s no way to describe the joy of holding in your hand what you’ve hoped for in your heart.

Anticipation. We anticipate Christmas. The looking forward. The wondering and dreaming. That hopeful, can’t wait, edge of your seat, can’t sit still, counting the days feeling of expectation.

Christmas is about anticipation.

The anticipation of Christmas contains a blessing. The blessing is that it is a set date on the calendar. Every year, December 25th. Whether it’s 2007 or 2017, Christmas is always on December 25th. If it’s June, you know you have to wait another six months. If it’s December 15th, then it’s ten days away. Only so much time to finish one’s shopping. Only so many days to be certain the packages you mail arrive in time for the holiday. Part of what makes anticipating Christmas exciting, and tolerable, is that we have a definite day to celebrate. A definite day and date we can point to in the future and wave goodbye to on the 26th. Even in the anticipation, there is closure. Christmas will come and we know what day it will arrive.

But what if there was the promise of Christmas and no set date? What if there was the promise of Christmas but no December 25th? Just a “trust me, it’s coming. You don’t know when and you can’t make party plans or put it on your calendar or hang your stockings by the chimney with care…but trust me, Christmas is coming”. How would that change our thinking? How would we feel about Christmas if we had only the promise and no date to actually celebrate?

That was the reality of a man named Simeon. A promise from God that Christmas was coming, but no date on the calendar. A promise that he would live to see it happen, but no heads up as to when it would be. Simeon was a man standing in the shadows of Christmas, anticipating Christmas and quite possibly living everyday with that hopeful, can’t wait, edge of your seat, can’t sit still, counting the days feeling of expectation.

The Bible says that Simeon was promised by God that he “would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ”Luke 2 describes him as a “righteous and devout man who was looking for the consolation of Israel”. Which means he was looking for the Messiah.

Imagine the questions Simeon must have had. How will I recognize this Messiah? If I get to live until I see it does it mean I’ll die immediately when I do? Is there any chance I could miss it? Any chance I would not recognize Him? One thing was for certain. It would mean waiting. Maybe a long time of waiting.

Anticipation.

For all of us, life is full of waiting and wondering. We wait on job opportunities and wonder if and when they will become reality. We wait for a doctor’s diagnosis of our illness and wonder what the prognosis will be. We wait for grades to be posted and wonder if we passed the test. We wait as our children grow up and wonder if our parenting will help them become the responsible godly individuals we hope for.

And it’s the wondering that makes the waiting difficult. Because we’re wondering about what we don’t yet know. We’re wondering about that which has yet to be revealed. What we want is to hear the doctor say, “Recovery will take 6 weeks, but you’re going to be fine.” We want to hear, “You still have to finish the last four months of school, but your GPA is good enough to get you into college.” We want to hear, “You’ve got 10 more years of challenging child raising years to go, but your kids are going to turn out great.” It’s easier to wait when you know the end result.

Yet the Bible says we walk by faith, not by sight. The fact is you and I stand in the shadows much of our lives. We walk by faith while we wait and wonder. Even Simeon, with God’s promise in his back pocket, had to had to walk by faith while he waited and wondered.

What are you waiting and wondering about?

Like the excited child wound tighter than the stripes on a candy cane, we think we can’t stand another moment of anticipation. Christmas just has to get here!

And it does.

In a moment of awe and surprise, Simeon’s waiting and wondering go out with a bang. The Messiah is…a baby. Mary and Joseph, teenage parents with reindeer in the headlights looks, hand their baby over to Simeon for what should have been a routine circumcision. But nothing has been routine for this Mom and Dad. Angelic visitations, getting pregnant without having sex, giving birth in a stable, shepherds with stories of angel armies singing about their Son. And now this old man of a priest looking to the heavens saying, “Now, Lord, let your servant die in peace. For mine eyes have seen Your salvation which has been prepared in the presence of all people.”

Something happens when you hold a baby. You realize that life is not all about you. At no time in history was this truth more evident than when Simeon held the baby Jesus. Holding the Savior of the world in your arms will put life in perspective. The waiting and wondering for Simeon is over. For Mary and Joseph, the wondering has just begun.

Whatever it is you’re waiting for and wondering about, keep anticipating. Your wait may be long. Or it may be brief. But God always delivers on His promises. Christmas came for Simeon. It will come for you, too.

And when it does…

There’s no way to describe the joy of holding in your hand what you’ve hoped for in your heart.

“Simeon took the Child in his arms, blessed God and said, “Now Lord, let your bondservant depart in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation which has been prepared in the presence of all people. A light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel.” – Luke 2:28-32