Column: Anticipating the wonder of the greatest gift of the season

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 30, 2006

By Rev. David Nelson

Special to the Salisbury Post

If there are any universal experiences, anticipation must be one of the.

We all know what it is to wait. We wait to grow up, we wait to finish school, we wait to get married, we wait to have our first child, we wait for healing and we wait for our just due. The list can go on and on.

Anticipation can have a happy side, but it can also have an unhappy side — like the difference between expecting a reward or expecting punishment. It goes without saying that anticipation is something that we deal with all the time.

Prior to the birth of Jesus, the Hebrew people lived in a sense of religious anticipation when they looked expectantly for the coming of the promised Messiah. Christians believe that promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, the Christ, that first Christmas. He came to bring fulfillment to the lives of God’s people. Jesus showed the way to live lives of service, devotion and love. In doing so, Christians find meaning and purpose in their existence.

“Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42) The Christian’s vigil for the coming of the Lord anew is not one of dread. It is filled with all of the wonderful hope and anticipation of blessing, fulfillment and purpose. It is that kind of anticipation that propels the Christian to look for good things and not bad. Although the bad comes at times, God’s promise can enable us to keep on hanging on or to simply know that “all things can work together for good for those that love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28)

The period of anticipation that precedes our celebration of Christmas can heighten our wonder at God’s great gift in Jesus, the Savior of the World. Enjoy the anticipation of this Christmas holiday. It is part of the experience that makes Christmas so special.

Anticipate and savor your time — it will be here soon enough. Just don’t let it arrive with getting excited, thrilled and blessed by anticipating how wonderful Christ’s coming at Christmas really is.

Rev. David Nelson is the assistant for Pastoral Care at Grace Lutheran Church in Salisbury.