My perspective on waiting for Christmas was forever changed when my wife was expecting our first daughter. During my first Advent as a pastor, I was not only expecting the coming of the Christ child, but was eagerly anticipating the coming of my first daughter (who would be born in January).
Anticipating the coming of a child is like no other kind of waiting I’ve ever experienced. We did our best to prepare. We put together a crib. We stocked up on diapers. We were given clothes and books and toys and countless well-wishes and prayers. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of our family and friends. As we waited for the child to come we knew that we were surrounded by an entire church family that was eagerly waiting with us.
It was appropriate that the process of giving birth began in church. At the end of a Bible study, surrounded by a few of our closest friends, my wife knew that the baby was coming. About 18 hours later we were holding our daughter.
I held that precious, fragile, resilient little baby in my arms and I knew one thing: I was not ready.
There is no way to be totally ready for a baby to come. There are certainly different levels of preparedness, but no one can anticipate, guess or even imagine what it is like to suddenly be entrusted with a child. In that moment I knew that I would do anything – any thing – to protect that child and her mother. She changed my perspective. She changed my goals. She changed my dreams, my hopes, my fears and my worries. For the rest of my life my joy would be magnified by her smile, my despair would be multiplied by her tears, and my peace would depend on her safety. A baby changes everything – and that is the message of Christmas.
The birth of Jesus changed everything. The eternal Word of God was made flesh, and nothing would ever be the same.
At Advent we are called to prepare the way of the Lord. There are many things that we can do to prepare the way of the Lord. I’ve been tweeting #BeChristInChristmas with ideas and ways to work for the Kingdom of God during the Christmas season. We can read the Bible, pray, study, worship, serve, and wait. There are so many ways that we can prepare for the coming of the Christ child, but the fact remains is that we can never be fully ready.
The birth of Jesus changed everything, and as we move through Advent my prayer is that Christmas can break through the hearts and minds of all who would separate themselves from God. Allow God to change your perspective. Allow God to change your goals. Open up and let Jesus change your dreams, your hopes, your fears and your worries. Allow your Joy to be magnified by the glory of God. Invite the Holy Spirit to weep with you in your times of despair. May the peace of Christ – the peace that surpasses all understanding – be with you. This Christmas, Jesus can change everything.