Once again it is December and Christmas is almost here. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always my favorite time of year. It isn’t Christmas day that I love, so much as the time of preparation before Christmas day. It is the baking and decorating. The shopping and Christmas carols that play over the radio and in the malls. There is a feeling of anticipation and expectation that is felt in the month or so before Christmas that is unlike any other time of year.
You are probably excited, too. You might be wondering what Santa will bring or what you will discover under the tree come Christmas morning. Will it be what you wanted? Will you get what you have asked for? When I was a child I remember the excitement, trying to guess what I was receiving. I also remember that there were many Christmases when I was disappointed. The actual day was somehow less than all that I had allowed myself to imagine it would be. Do you ever feel like that? That feeling of disappointment when you don’t get exactly what you asked for? Or when what you asked for wasn’t nearly as exciting as what you thought it would be? Are you like me, waiting and waiting and then thinking, this is it?
Sometimes I wonder if that is how Mary felt when Jesus was born. She had been visited by an angel, who told her she would have this very special baby. She visited her cousin whose own baby was excited at her presence, but when Jesus was actually born it was in a barn, with only cows and sheep and some other animals in attendance, and the only people who came to visit that night were some dirty shepherds. After all, this was the son of God.
If I had just given birth to the son of God I would think there would be something visibly special about him, glowing skin or the ability to interact and speak, but he didn’t do any of those things. Jesus was just a baby, like every other person who has ever been born he had ten toes and ten fingers, two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth, and I wonder once Mary had given birth is she thought, just for a moment, Oh, that’s it, He looks just like any other baby.
I hope she didn’t. I hope that when she held Jesus in her arms she thought how amazing it was that she held God in her hands. I think that some of our excitement about the coming of Christmas must be what all the Israelites felt as they waited for the Messiah to come, and as the Wise Men journeyed from the east to see the new King that had been born.
So this year, instead of being excited about what I might receive under the Christmas tree, I think how exciting it is that Jesus is coming. I try to imagine what it must have been like to think, finally the savior is on his way, and come Christmas Day I will be thinking how amazing it is that God became a person, a little baby, just like you or me, so that I could know him and he could save me.