Underneath the story of Christmas that we celebrate every year is another story. It is a story of waiting as long and as misunderstood as the 400 years of silence between Malachi and Matthew. This story completes what Christmas began. This story is victory over everything that we have wrestled with from betrayals and reversals, death and disease, inequality and unanswered questions.
It is the story of the second Advent.
No one sets up a tree for this part of the story. No one decorates it with the four living creatures with seven horns and seven eyes. No one wants to disturb the beauty or color palette we have grown accustomed to.
But it is fiercely present, underpinning every carol, every gift, every nativity scene or pageant. Christ will come again.
Christ will come again into a world not ready to receive him and growing more unprepared each year. It will not be one innkeeper who sends him to a stable, it will be the many who downplay His Truth, corrupt His claims, and stamp out His influence in all things we call cultural progress.
Who will see Him first, this time? Maybe it will be the parents who have not given up praying for their children. Maybe it will be those who have not thrown childlikeness away with a push to be culturally relevant. Maybe it will be the never heard of people who live their lives with authentic faith and underrated joy.
I do know that God is a God of the unexpected and whatever He is planning for this big reveal, no one will be able to predict it or manipulate it for their own gain or notoriety.
Jesus tried to tell us how to get ready. His simple stories about taking care of business in the absence of the Proprietor, investing in resources with eternal dividends, sharing mercy before judgment, sharing forgiveness with the undeserving, living in the eternal now in a way that protects the eternal tomorrow.
So here’s what I’m thinking. As I put away Christmas decorations for another year, I want the Light that came into the world 2,000 years ago to be my only Light pointing to a return. I want to be more committed this New Year to every obedience my heart needs to be ready. I don’t want to argue over lifestyle, equality, politics or anything that doesn’t help me see God in the background, making this world and the next new as only He can.
I would love to be more like Simeon, an expectant heart that does not grow weary with waiting. I would love to be known as Anna for her prayerful life and authentic faith. If I have learned anything by reviewing the Christmas story it is that the unlikely, the unnoticed, the unknown had eyes to see and ears to hear. I want to be in that company when God decides to come again.
As we turn a page on the calendar and learn to write 2020, I don’t want this to be just another New Year. Instead, I want to treat it as another cog in the wheel that turns us closer to the next coming. I want to live that truth with a fresh understanding of Christ’s eternal mission to bring us back to a Garden where we walk with God without fear. I want to live that no-fear intimacy as best I can in this broken world. I want to be an emissary of His mission to bring people together in a unity centered in Who Christ Is and not sidetracked by any other discussion. I want to live the Christmas story as the introduction to the rest of the story.
And so I pray . . .