This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Will Barham.
Everyone knows something about anticipation. We have all experienced it on one level or another. It comes in many different kinds of flavors: a baby about to be born, a phone call from a job interview, the answer from the woman of your dreams whom you just asked to marry you. Each of these has their own level of anxiety.
I remember well when I was a little child during Christmas time, listening to the radio as I sat on our unheated porch in the middle of winter. Reports of “Santa sightings” echoed from the broadcaster’s lips, and with each sighting my heart leapt, and beat faster and faster as I looked to the sky to perhaps catch a glimpse. What was worse was a calendar we had which counted down the days until Christmas had finally arrived. Add to this the radio announcements, and I was whipped into a frenzy!
As the time grew near, so did my anxiety, wonder, and excitement. Santa was coming! His name was proclaimed from the television specials to the Norelco commercials (I am dating myself I know). With his coming meant joy and happiness for every good little girl and boy all over the world.
Mind you, I still love Christmas for similar reasons. Those of you who have children cannot tell me you are not buying your kids toys for yourselves! I am sure I am not the only one. However, these days during Christmas I look up for different reasons. Actually, only one reason in particular.
A man by the name of Simeon illustrates. In Luke’s gospel, chapter 2, Luke records for us the short story of Simeon. Luke tells us Simeon was “righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel” (Luke 2:25 NLT). Simeon was promised by God that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Finally the day came! Being led by the Holy Spirit to the temple, he took in his arms an infant. And looking into the infant’s eyes he said, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation…” Simeon on that day experienced both peace and salvation.
This then is what Christmas means to me. I have exchanged one joy for another. As a matter of fact, I anticipate Christmas all the more as it reminds me of all that God has done for me in Christ. Like Simeon God has through Christ Jesus brought me both peace and salvation. Joy is the fringe benefit of a life set free by the gospel of Christ.
So as I walk through Walmart and see the Christmas decorations out next to the Halloween candy and costumes I am not offended—I am elated! Why? Because the Holy Spirit uses it as an opportunity to draw my heart back to my savior, the one I love; the one who has brought me peace and salvation; the one who has taught my heart to sing, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).
Will Barham, M.Div. ’13, preaches at Palmyra Reformed Church and works for the Village of Webster, N.Y.