Like most Baptists of my age who grew up in the South, Advent as part of the liturgical year (or the liturgical year, for that matter) was not part of my tradition. The idea of expectancy and preparing for the coming of the Christ Child was still part of our celebration and our worship, however.
As a child, I experienced not only the anticipation of Christmas morning gifts from generous parents and grandparents, but the wonderful carols and sacred music of the season as well as the shared worship experiences in a close church family.
As a college student, I looked forward to the time back home, but there were other aspects of the season that gave it meaning. One of the first real dates I had with my future spouse was attending a Christmas performance of Handel’s Messiah. I remember that every time I hear the work performed. As we became engaged, I looked forward to taking my finance home to spend holiday time with family and friends and future times together as a couple.
As a young parent, the anticipation of Christmas worship was mixed with the expectation of new experiences for our children. As a grandfather now, sharing preparations for Christmas with grandchildren, anticipating their joys, and attending worship heighten the sense of anticipation.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Like every family, we have those times during the holidays that are stressful and challenging; however, we come back every year with expectation and hope. There is a promise of renewal implicit in the season.
Perhaps that’s what the season is all about. Even when things aren’t perfect, we hope for something better. We certainly share that experience with the people of Israel who anticipated the coming of Messiah even among times of persecution, turmoil, and exile.
The coming of the Christ Child assures us that our hope will be rewarded. There is more. God will provide.