By Matt Walton
This is one of my favorite pictures of my daughter, taken three years ago in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The picture hangs in our kitchen where it warms my heart each time I consider it. Often I will stop what I am doing and gaze at it for a few moments, and when I do, the phrase ?waiting for Christmas? lingers in my mind. Honestly, I smile in part because this is a moment I want frozen in time. I am washed in sentimentality, my little pig-tailed girl in her bright colored socks full of wonder and excitement for the holiday season. This is a memory that lingers like a good song from yesterday or a smell wafting in the air so vivid I can almost taste my late grandmother's apple pie.
Advent has a way of drawing me into the nostalgia of days past. Advent though, is no mere memory, nor is this sacred season mere sentimentality. No, waiting for Christmas is a revolutionary act of hope. Waiting for Christmas is marked by a hope that transcends the past and looks toward God's future. Advent has a way of reminding us that the full life to which God has called us has come, a foretaste lingering on our tongues; and yet, this full life is still to come, a feast awaiting us in the fullness of God's promises in Jesus.
Christ has come, and Christ will come again.
Waiting for Christmas reminds me that we who trust in Jesus live within the pause between these promises. Christ has come, and Christ will come again. There is a great intake of breath between these clauses, an anticipation along the comma.
In this anticipation we wait expectantly, peering out the windows of our lives for the Advent to which we hope. This pause between the promises is no passive intermission. It is instead participatory, so that even our waiting is doing for Christ's Kingdom. And in our doing for Christ's Kingdom, we demonstrate our waiting as hope and joy, the twin realities of God's future that we taste on the tips of our tongues. Now in part. Now in memory. Now in hope. But then, then in full.
Christ will come again.
Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.
Matt Walton serves as South Main's Minister for Discipleship. He is married to Kristie, and they are the proud parents of Evan and Finley. He loves reading, mountain biking, the Chicago Cubs, and spending time with his family.