When my son was 2 years old, we bought him a Polar Express train to set up under the Christmas tree. Every year he waits anxiously for us to get the Christmas tree decorated so that we can set up the train. As a Christmas gift, he receives one new car or piece to his train set each December.
He loves this tradition and occasionally mentions how many train pieces he’ll have to share with his own children someday. He’s not obsessed with trains, but he certainly likes to ride on them and he definitely likes to play with his Christmas train set.
As I was watching him play with the train this last week, I got to thinking about how much he anticipates Christmas traditions because it includes this train. I also have great anticipation for the Christmas season. I love the anticipation of family heirlooms hanging on the tree, the sending and receiving of greeting cards and the process of finding, wrapping, and delivering gifts to those around me.
Scholars debate if December 25th is actually Jesus’ birthday, but indulge me for a moment and think about the anticipation Mary would have had for the birth of her child. The anticipation of holding your small child for the first time and hearing those strong lungs announce their arrival. The anticipation and longing to be done with the health changes pregnancy brings. The anticipation of blending a family together.
You know what she didn’t anticipate in the days leading up to Christmas?
She didn’t anticipate fear of a king killing all the under-two-year-old boys in the region. She didn’t anticipate life with an intelligent child who would teach Priests. She certainly didn’t anticipate watching her son suffer humiliating torture only to be crucified on the cross.
There is so much in the lives of women that we don’t anticipate: loss of wages, deaths of friends, failing relationships, miscarriages, smart-mouthed kiddos, dents and dings on our cars or on our hearts.
But there is so much good to anticipate when we know Jesus as our Savior. To know you are heaven-bound makes many of the unexpected anticipations a tiny bit more bearable. Wouldn’t the best Christmas gift be to share with others that heaven-bound promise…the anticipation?!? That precious gift of His death for our sins is so much better than the anticipation of Christmas trains and heirloom ornaments!
In the last few hours of anticipation of Christmas 2019, let’s reflect on what we’re anticipating for our own lives and the lives around us.
Merry Christmas from the Iron Porch!