Let’s face it, today is the best part of this whole Christmas thing. Christmas Eve is way better than Christmas Day, just as anticipation is almost always better than the thing anticipated. Most of the time, the wrapped present under the tree is far superior to the unwrapped thing we stuff in a drawer within a few days.
Why is that? I’m sure there are many reasons, but let me take a shot at one. A wrapped present is a symbol of hope. An unwrapped present is an object that was manufactured at a factory in China. A wrapped present is mystery, an unwrapped present is utility. A wrapped present is, therefore, heavenly while an unwrapped present is a mere commodity. When I look at those gifts shrouded in colorful paper and bows, I am catching a glimpse of heaven. Nothing you buy at the mall will ever compare with heaven, so the gift you give or receive will never measure up to the hope that came before.
The only way that hope could be outmatched by fulfillment would be if that which is hoped for is heaven itself. For this reason, I am confident that the anticipation of the ever expectant Church will be far surpassed by the joy that is coming to her.
When Christ came as a baby, the angels sang his praises to a limited number of laborers. Their experience took them from the heavenly chorus to a manger. When Christ returns, everything in heaven and on earth will sing his praises. No one will need to point the way to him, no one will need to seek him out. He will be as obvious as the Sun on a cloudless day, as loud as thunder that has come too close.
How we will greet Christ depends in part on how we live in the ongoing Advent Season of our lives. If we are not watching, not waiting, then I expect we are in for a rude awakening. If we are waiting with fear, trying to make sure we are doing enough to earn his favor, I expect we will be in for disappointment as we see the last being made first. If we are waiting with hope, as a child looking on that unwrapped Christmas present, I believe that the joy we find will far exceed any expectations.
Advent 2009 is almost over. The Great Advent of Life will end one day, we know not when. Let’s welcome Christmas Day with joy this year. Let’s also keep our eyes open, for that final Gift will come when we least expect him.
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