It’s at the heart of Christmas, isn’t it? It’s in the packages under the tree, the joy of sharing a meal with those we love, maybe just having an extra day off or a long weekend.

Did you realize that it was at the heart of that first Christmas so long ago? The people had waited thousands of years for the Messiah to be born. There had been countless prophecies. Every generation no doubt wondered if the Messiah would come during their lifetime. I’m sure every woman wondered if she would be the one to bear the Messiah. Yet the years passed and nothing changed.

Until one year, when I’m sure all of heaven watched with anticipation as Jesus, God in the flesh, was born as a helpless baby to a poor couple in a dingy stable surrounded by unaware animals.

Society’s outcasts were among the first visitors. Not kings, or the rich, or the religious, but poor shepherds. Men who lived outside of society and were probably smelly and dirty from days spent surrounded by sheep. They hadn’t been anticipating their role in the Messiah’s arrival, yet they are discussed every Christmas.

This Christmas, as we reflect on a year filled with countless lives lost, social unrest, political instability, economic uncertainty, and a forced “new normal” as we deal with the pandemic, you might not be feeling anticipation.

Maybe your Christmas isn’t going to look anything like it usually does. Maybe financial troubles have forced you to scale back on gift giving. Maybe you aren’t going to be able to gather with family and friends as you normally would.

Even if this Christmas isn’t what you’d hoped it would be, there is something we can all anticipate – the fact that Jesus will come again. Maybe it will be in our generation, maybe not. All we know is that it will happen someday. So as you think about the anticipation of that first Christmas, look ahead to the day when Jesus will come again, not as a helpless baby but as a mighty and righteous King.

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