Advent: A Season of Expecting Unexpectedness

by Amber Ginter, Senior, English Major

“While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby.  She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped him up well and laid him in a box where cattle are fed. She put him there because the guest room was full.” (Luke 2:5-7, ERV).

In Luke chapter two, the prophecy of the Messiah described in Micah 5:2-5 is fulfilled.  Here, though Luke is primarily concerned with the oppressed and how Jesus is going to help them, Bethlehem becomes a pivotal location for an unexpected baby lying in a less than expected stable.

Anticipating the coming of something or someone that was prophesied to transform the world radically, you could say that the people of Israel were less than thrilled when the waiting that had now come to an end, fulfilled less than what their hearts were hoping.  After all, waiting isn’t a pleasant thing for us, now is it? 

We want our Christmas presents, and we want them now, we want our chocolate-chip cookies with milk for Santa, and we anticipate him at this very moment, we want the best bargains at shopping malls, and we chase people down to fulfill these temporary desires.  But what if part of the true meaning of Advent meant something more?  What if in the waiting, we too, like the people of Israel missed the most significant entrance of the greatest being in history because we were too concerned with expecting what He would look like and when we wanted Him to arrive?

Eagerly waiting for redemption, the people of Israel craved to be saved, and they desired it right then.  After waiting, waiting, and waiting some more, they longed for the Messiah King to show up and destroy Rome.  But when a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a smelly manger shows up instead, they are unable to accept Him, for He did not look like what they wanted Him to.  And in the danger of this, we too, today can fall into this trap of not realizing that He hasn’t just come but is coming back again, and we are expecting this second coming.

As Christians, we are waiting in anticipation for Jesus to come, but while we are waiting, let us not forget to be actively involved in the now, and press on in hope amidst the feelings that make us want to give up.  In fact, waiting again, I must note is not easy, and more often than not, it is the least desirable thing that we want to do.  Our hope shows up as lackluster as the fruitcake under the tree, and the twelfth pair of fuzzy socks that we don’t need, so in our minuteness, we miss the blessing.

In the redemption of Israel, the people were too busy constructing their own views of what Jesus would look like rather than appreciating His arrival of love, hope, joy, and peace that had finally come; that is, they didn’t honor the treasure they were given because they failed to recognize it until it was too late.  Unable to see the beauty behind a smelly stable, shredded cloths, and a quiet baby lying in the manger, this season don’t make the same mistake. 

“Advent is the season of already here, but not yet come.  We know that something better is coming, but we must anticipate that which is coming as we wait in hope,” reflects Rev. Aaron Duvall, Director of Spiritual Formation.  The best is yet to come in those unexpected packages- even those of the awaited Advent period that are often expected in their unexpectedness.  

 

To read another article about Advent and the Christmas season click here

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