As I was growing up, every few years my Grandma Petersen would come to visit. She would fly in on a plane from Illinois and I loved the chance to go with my Dad to the airport and pick her up. We would go to the roof of Sky Harbor airport and watch the planes come and go. It was so exciting.
Grandma had the best stories of Grandpa and of Mom growing up. She would make us the best pancakes and Kringle. When we knew that she was coming, we were filled with excitement and would count down the days until her arrival. Our whole family would plan and prepare for her time with us.
In one sense, it is the same with Advent. We prepare with joy and great anticipation for our celebration of Christ’s incarnation in Bethlehem: the joy of God with us. Throughout Advent, it is a time of preparation and repentance.
We prepare for the celebration of the anniversary of God’s first coming into the world: we prepare for the many ways in which he comes to us now; and we look forward to His future coming in glory at the end of time. For me, the power and meaning of this season is the awareness of the many and varied ways that Christ comes to us in the here and now. His Word filled the lips of the prophets as Isaiah foretold the Messiah’s birth. Luke’s historical account of how Jesus birth forever changed our lives. How the incarnation works through his words and sacraments.
Christmas Eve and morning will be a time of great joy as we remember His first coming. But in these days leading up to this festival, let us keep our hearts and minds in his word as we read and contemplate this gift.
In the word spoken through Scripture and through hymns and songs, in quiet moments of prayer, and through situations that allow us to share with the less fortunate, to share the real Christmas story with the lost and lonely.
Above all, let us capture the deep meaning of the Incarnation, God with us. Our God who loves us, nurtures us, cares for us, and reaches out to us. Our God who says to us, “You are my beloved.”
The Incarnation, when God embraces the world, enters into the human drama to let us know how incredibly special and loved we are. Our God who enters into every hopeless situation, into every time of fear and anxiety, and transforms these moments into grace, wholeness, and the possibility of new life.
Christ has come, Christ is here, and Christ will come again. May these days be filled with anticipation and a greater awareness of His presence with you, and on the great day when our hearts and minds go back to the original manger this Christmas, may He be re-born in you in ways that you cannot imagine.