Is. 9:2-7; Rom. 8:31-38
It’s Christmas morning and the excited children thunder downstairs. (Whoever talked about the pitter-patter of little feet obviously never had children.) They know the traditions of their family — they can enjoy the goodies in their stockings but they must wait for their parents to come downstairs before they can open presents. This wait seems to last all day, but it’s not really that long. Once their parents are fortified with coffee, the festivities begin.
This order of events was repeated all the years of my childhood, with little variation, yet our delight in the anticipation of Christmas morning never faded. That reminds me of what Advent means.
In the liturgical year, the four weeks before Christmas is the Advent season. It’s the time of year when we prepare our hearts for Christmas.
The common dictionary definition of advent refers to the coming or arrival of something extremely important. It’s interesting that the definition implies both the expectation and the fulfillment of that expectation.
That seems especially fitting as it applies to the Christmas season. We know the outcome of the Christmas story, unlike the people who first heard Isaiah’s prophecy: “ For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon  his shoulder, and his name shall be called  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
And yet, we still anticipate the celebration of the birth of the Messiah. Each year we can find new meaning in the familiar scriptures and songs, the familiar order of events. And it has deeper meaning for us, of course. We know that Christ will return someday, so for us his birth reminds us of the whole of God’s redemption story.
We live with both the expectation and fulfillment. Because Jesus was born in a manger and died on the cross for the sins of the world, we have the promise of eternal life. Because of Christmas, we can live in the promise of Rom. 8:31-38 — nothing can separate us from the love of God.
My siblings and I knew what was coming, but each year brought something new. And as we grew up, we cherished not only the gifts and the family celebration; we also cherished the meaning of Christmas even more. May you discover new hope and meaning in this Advent season, as you live in the expectation and fulfillment of God’s love.