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Tag: Christmas

The Anticipation of Christmas

I just love Christmastime.  I love everything including the lights, the tree, the music, the parties, the decorations, the gifts, the food, and the anticipation. Yes, especially the anticipation.

Anticipation is the expectation of something, the hope that builds as we wait. For children, Christmas is all about the anticipation of the presents.  As a parent, the anticipation is waiting to see the joy on my children’s faces as they unwrap their gifts.

The anticipation of Christmas!

Even more importantly, as I mature, I feel the anticipation of the Advent season. As we light the Advent candles at church, I feel the hope and excitement of the true meaning of Christmas.  As I read Advent stories with my boys, I can relive what it must have felt like to wait for the long-awaited Messiah.

I have the opportunity to worship from this side of history, knowing that He has already come. However, Simeon and Anna (found in Luke 2), are famous for their holy and long-enduring faith as they waited for Him to arrive.  I just love these two – their faith, their attitude, and their joy at being included in the story of Jesus’ arrival.

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  Luke 2: 25 NASB

Simeon received a special promise from the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died.  He believed it with all of his heart.  Luke says that the Holy Spirit led him to the temple on the day that Mary and Joseph came to present their baby to the Lord.  Simeon saw the infant Messiah with his eyes, and he immediately believed and rejoiced.  Not only that, he blessed God and prophesied aloud to his parents and any onlookers present!  He was filled with gratitude for the gifts that had been given: 1) his own promise fulfilled – seeing the Christ with his own eyes, and 2) the ultimate promise fulfilled – “the consolation of Israel” and “a light of revelation to the Gentiles.”

Then there’s Anna.  She is a kind of grace note in the story of Christmas.  She did not play a vital role in the story of Jesus’ birth. In fact, there is a mere paragraph about her in Luke.  Still, she was included in this miraculous story for a reason.

Luke says that Anna was a prophetess. Honestly, we don’t often hear in Scripture about female prophets, so that in and of itself is remarkable.  What’s even more extraordinary about Anna is that she was 84 years old, living, serving, fasting, and praying in the temple.  We’re told that she “never left the temple.”  Anna was at one point married for seven years and then widowed.  In this passage, we find her as an old woman in the temple.  Her life had been entirely dedicated to serving the Lord.

Unlike Simeon, we aren’t told that the Lord promised her anything.  This is why her story is so amazing.  She was just serving the Lord faithfully, using her gifts for His honor and glory.  While doing this, she happened to overhear the exchange between Simeon and Jesus’ parents.  She was therefore included in this incredible revelation.  Upon seeing Jesus, she immediately began giving thanks to God and spoke of Him “to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). I can just picture her little wrinkled, joyful self, stopping to talk to anyone and everyone at the temple who had time to listen. I just hope I grow up to be such an 84 year old one day.

Don’t these two just make your heart flip over a little bit?  They were two faithful people, advanced in years, serving the Lord.  They were anticipating His arrival, and God blessed them.  He wrote them into His story.

Pause: Find a nice, comfortable spot near your Christmas tree, and read the story of Simeon and Anna in Luke: 2:21-38.  What stands out to you in this story?

Renew: What are you anticipating this Christmas season?  If, instead of worship, you have been feeling stress, take time to pray and think about how you can shift your perspective or priorities so that you can take time to delight and hope in Jesus’ arrival.

Next: Look for one characteristic of Simeon or Anna that you admired in this passage.  Was it their faith?  Their excitement?  Their endurance while waiting for a promise?  Whatever it was that stood out to you, focus on emulating that characteristic in your own walk of faith.

May we take delight in the anticipation of Emmanuel.

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Advent, A Star, and Adoration

For the past couple of years, our family has begun a new Advent tradition.  We have been reading through the Jotham’s Journey series by Arnold Ytreeide. This year’s advent reading is titled Ishtar’s Odyssey, and it centers around the story of the Wise Men.  (No spoilers please, we’re still at the beginning!)

The story of the Wise Men is slightly odd, isn’t it? Little is known about them, and they show up only in one part of Scripture. They followed a mysterious star and found the Savior. How did that happen? We don’t know how many of them there were, their background, or even their origin, other than that they came from the East.

Still, they hold an important place in the Christmas narrative. After all, what’s a Christmas play without the Wise Men? They show up in nativity scenes, in Christmas Scripture readings, and on Christmas cards. They even have their own Christmas song!

Although little is known of these men, Matthew does tell us that they were wise.  By this, we can assume that they were educated and knowledgeable. Judging by the gifts they brought Jesus, as well as by tradition, we can guess that they were also very wealthy. This makes it all the more intriguing that men of this caliber would travel untold miles to bestow riches upon an infant.

And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.  Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2: 11 ESV

We can learn so much from the Wise Men’s example. The Savior was so important to them, that showing Him adoration was the ultimate object of their desire.

The definition of Adore is:

  • to regard with the utmost esteem, love, and respect; honor.
  • to pay divine honor to; worship
  • to like or admire very much:

O come let us adore Him!

The Wise Men have much to teach us about the act of adoration. Here are a few of the lessons that stand out to me:

  1. Adoration is the most important thing.  The Wise Men understood the importance of the Savior, and they were willing to humble themselves, bowing down before an infant King in order to show their adoration.
  2. It was worth the risk.  What did they risk?  We may never know the extent of it, since little is written about them in Scripture.  However, we do know that they took a potentially dangerous journey with an unknown destination. There was no GPS, only a star. They were following on sheer faith. They even had to go through mad King Herod to reach Jesus.
  3. Adoration cost them something.  They didn’t flippantly congratulate the parents on the birth of their new child. Instead, they practically hunted them down in order to adore their baby. And when they found Jesus, they presented Him with costly gifts. These gifts were not random; they had Spiritual significance. They were specifically chosen and carefully carried over a long distance to be presented to their King.

Maybe we should all be a little more like the Wise Men this Christmas, taking time to adore our Savior.

Pause: Take a deep breath and prepare your mind and body to be still.  Read and reflect on the Wise Men’s story in Matthew 2 : 1-12

Renew:  When is the last time that you can remember taking time to adore the Savior?  What were you doing?  Praying?  Singing?  Reading the Bible?  How do you most often show your adoration for the Lord?

Next: As we enter the Advent season, think about ways that you want to offer adoration to Christ:  maybe prioritizing time to pray or sing as a family, setting aside time for personal Worship at home or in the car, or simply shifting your perspective on the Christmas season.  Whatever it is that you choose to do, do it with joy!

May we too come to adore Him!

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