We got the news months ago that our eldest son Joe was thinking about coming home in December to spend Christmas with us. It will be the first time in 3 ½ years that he has been home and that I have seen him, since he moved to Japan and started teaching English there.
In the past few weeks the anticipation has been getting palpable. We are finishing projects around the house, we are planning menus, arranging for time off, making sure his brother Chris can be here, we are stocking the shelves with food we know he likes, and planning gifts for him and for his girl friend Maki. We are even planning a Thanksgiving Dinner type of feast on New Years Day for the whole family gathered at our house.
In a very real sense we are celebrating his Advent – his arrival back in our midst – and want it to be a festive, fun, loving celebration. What struck me is the very real urgent sense of expectation about Joe’s return. This is in contrast to the lackluster sense of anticipation in most congregations during our season of anticipation and preparation.
Perhaps the problem is that as a faith community we are preparing not to receive a beloved guest but getting ready for a specific day. We are not looking forward to greeting a loved one – but to fulfilling expectations about an event.
What a difference to be waiting expectantly for a person – counting the days until we be with them. May your Advent become waiting to greet the Christ in our midst on Christmas and to spend time with him in the New Year!