Don’t you love watching families reunite in joy and excitement? This time of the year gives us plenty of opportunity to see our military families running to greet their loved ones, having been separated by miles and time. Relatives who we haven’t seen in years find ways to gather together for the special season. The “never let you go” hugs and kisses of fathers, mothers and children home for the holidays resonates deeply within us and we smile and cry with them. Who can forget the parent who shows up at the school cafeteria or the football field surprising their son or daughter? Reuniting with loved ones is magical.
But what are the feelings during those moments, long hours, and days before the reunion? One word captures the emotion: anticipation. Anticipation is defined as “the act of looking forward.” Those awaiting beloved reunions are like a bride counting the days to her long-desired wedding.
Anticipation fills the season of Advent also. Derived from a version of the Latin word “coming,” Advent observes three different “comings” of Christ. We know that he has come to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), he comes personally to us when we receive him in our hearts (John 1:12), and one day he will come again in glory (Acts 1:11). For hundreds of years, the Advent Season calls us to anticipate something new that builds on our already secure faith in Messiah. Those of us who personally know he has come and is coming in our hearts celebrate the remembrance of Bethlehem.
Alfred Delp, a German priest martyred under Hitler, reminds us “Advent is blessed with God’s promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time. These promises kindle the inner light in our hearts.” But there’s more. The Advent season also invites us to wait confidently, “standing on tip toes” anticipating his coming in glory. Our reunion with Christ on that day will be more than magical, and filled with inexpressible joy. Will you join the Advent People who wait with hopeful anticipation? He is coming again.