• by Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Waiting, Anticipating, Hoping, Wishing, Expecting

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall seeittogether: for the mouth of the Lord hath spokenit.” Isaiah 40:1-5

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1

There is something about December and particularly the Christmas Holidays that fills us with a sense of anticipation and expectancy. From childhood we knew that once Thanksgiving came all focus was then on Christmas, Santa Clause, the Baby Jesus, Christmas lights and Christmas songs being heard in nearly every department and grocery store. Some of the most popular recording artists were singing the traditional carols and some introducing new songs that would become classics overtime. There was also the good food and the scrumptious deserts that only appeared once a year at Christmas time.

We looked forward to Christmas all year with great excitement and anticipation.

I supposed every family has it’s own established Christmas and Holiday Season traditions that center around the family with all generations gathering together to enjoy good food, good fellowship and generally lots of laughter and goodwill all around. Visiting and being visited by neighbors and close friends are also an important part of the traditions.

As a little kid what I remember most, was the hopeful expectation that Santa was going to bring me just the perfect thing I had been hoping for all year, being reminded often that if I were not good Santa would not bring me anything. So, whenever I would think about it, I would do my best to do good deeds in hopes that Santa wouldn’t pass me by on Christmas night. Fortunately, he always showed up and I was always glad about what I got.

Than came the day when my older brother completely shattered my little innocent world with the cruel declaration, “There is no Santa Clause!” “What?” “Don’t say that!” I shouted back. “There is a Santa Clause!” “No there isn’t,” he insisted, “Ask Momma and Daddy. The only Santa Clause is them. They are the ones who give us presents for Christmas.”

I refused to believe him. So I ran into the house in tears to Mom, telling her what my brother had said. Well, the childhood innocence was over that day and for many days, weeks, months, years after I felt a certain insecurity and void in my otherwise absolutely confident happy fantasy life up to that time.

For a long time after that Christmas just wasn’t the same. I appreciated my parents for rewarding us with gifts at Christmas time for being good little boys all year, but the mystery of a jolly old elf with a red suit and a long white beard was no more than a memory that no longer held much meaning for me.

It was about that same time that I remember becoming more aware of the true meaning of Christmas, focusing less on Santa and reindeers and more on the baby in a manger. After all that is what Christmas was really all about. Jesus was born a Savior to the world. “Joy to the world the Lord is come…” Santa eventually faded in importance as the central figure of my Christmas anticipation, and the birth of Jesus became my reason for joy. Celebrating His life was the reason for decorating the house, putting up the Christmas Tree and lights in the windows and buying or making, wrapping and giving away presents. Everything had a real meaning and purpose. This was the real deal and I was confident it would not be taken away.

Israel’s hope was that the Messiah would come and deliver them from the bondage of men, from the oppression of their enemies and freedom from those who prevented them from keeping their covenant with God. The true meaning and significance of the Messiah’s coming escaped most of them, because they could not see God’s greater design and purpose. The promise of the Covenant of God was not meant for them alone. God had His Church in mind from the beginning. It was a mystery. [Hebrews 11:39-40]

Today, December is still a time of mystery and some fantasy in that there is an atmosphere of joy in the hearts of people regardless of their religious persuasion that seems to permeate the air and cause people to be more inclined to doing good things for others, showing compassion and reaching out to those less fortunate.

Despite the incessant drumbeat of division, political and social vitriol and expressions of hatred we hear so much about there is still the voice of the one in the wilderness declaring, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”

As believers we are the light bears to the world. We have in our hands, and in the words of our mouths, the power of God to change our world to be as He created us to be. The Christmas Season is an excellent time to bring people that are lost spiritually or on the fringe of belief in Jesus Christ to all kinds of presentations of the gospel through music and the arts as churches and even the entertainment media present shows and programs that declare the message of the transforming power of God to save everyone through the baby born in a manager, but is now the King of King and Lord of Lords, the Savior of the World, triumphant over sin and calling all to life and that more abundantly in Him.

We celebrate His birth, His life, His death, His burial and His resurrection with the anticipation that He is coming again to receive us to himself and forever we will be with the Lord in Heaven never to see death again.

This is the message of Christmas, that through Jesus Christ all mankind can be saved. The baby born in a manger is now the Son of God knocking at the door of every heart, calling all to open the door and to let Him and the Father come in and make their dwelling place in every heart, to heal, to deliver, to empower, to fill with His Holy Spirit and His love, to overflow with His life into the lives of all those we encounter, that the world will know that Jesus Christ is Lord and through Him and Him only they can be saved.

I loved Santa because he brought me things but all those things perished with the using and I barely can remember most of them. But God the Father gave us His only begotten Son, the greatest gift of all, above and before all creation, Jesus Christ our Lord. For that gift I will forever and for all eternity be grateful.

My earnest hope and expectation this Christmas is that millions of souls will be saved, that lives will be transformed to become like Christ and that sick people will be healed, blind people will receive their sight, that the lame will walk, the dumb will speak, the deaf will hear, the poor will be made rich and those who morn will be comforted. I pray that each one who has struggled just to make ends meet will experience an abundant, even overwhelming outpour of provisions for their families and themselves. I pray for violence and destruction to cease on our earth, in our cities and throughout the nations. I pray that men’s hearts would turn away from selfishness and evil to seek the love of God and to find in Him their purpose and be filled with joy because of it. I pray for children to be protected from the evil one, and that they be taught of the Lord and be brought up in the nurture and admonition of Jesus Christ.

I pray for those who are weighed down with the cares of this world that they would be set free, their burdens lifted and their hearts restored to true peace and health in the name of Jesus. I pray that this season of Joy to the World the Lord is comewill truly be that, Joy to the Worldthe Lord is come.Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room and Heaven and nature sing!

Thank You, Father for the anticipated joy and hoped for peace to be fulfilled. In Jesus Holy name let is be so. AMEN.



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