Even though I am an adult, I still await Christmas morning as eagerly as any pajama-clad child. By the time dawn breaks on December 25th, I have spent weeks either covertly or overtly gathering gift ideas from each member of my family. I have shopped for, stashed, and wrapped presents as secretly as any mom of six children can, and the anticipation of watching the kids open their presents is killing me! When the anticipation gets too great, I find myself dropping little hints throughout Advent about the gifts I’ve gotten.
“Golly, whatever happened to that TobyMac CD?” I might absentmindedly ask a child for whom I have gotten new music. Or, the year we spent Christmas in California visiting family, all Advent I kept saying things like, “Man, it’s cold this year! Wouldn’t it be great to be some place warm?” It is just really hard for me to keep a lid on the joy of giving!
In the following scripture passage, I sense the same bubbling over of anticipatory joy on the part of God the Father when from the Old Testament he looks forward to giving us the best gift of all time at the first Christmas; “‘The days will come, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the House of Judah; not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I paid no heed to them, says the Lord. This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Hebrews 8:1-13).”
God doesn’t spell out what he will be giving (the baby Jesus) in the days to come, but rather drops a hint about how utterly fantastic it will be when, because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we his children will be free of the Levitical Laws written on stone tablets and have his love written on our hearts instead. The stories of hellfire and brimstone get so much press in our reading of the Old Testament that I can honestly say that before this Advent, I had not noticed this more anticipatory, eager side of God the Father. It fits well, however, with Jesus’ claim that “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and with the fact that Jesus cried out to God from the cross saying, “Abba!”or as we would say, “Daddy!”(Mark 14:36).
As I read the scripture passage above, all of a sudden I saw all Old Testament prophecies about Jesus as holy hints from our Father God about his greatest Christmas gift. The prophecies were not necessary. They did not cause or affect Jesus’ birth. They were given to us because our adoring Father in heaven was having a hard time keeping a lid on the joy of giving us his Son. In the same way that I like to peek out of my bedroom and gaze at the wrapped presents under the finished Christmas tree, I can almost see God on the first Christmas Eve peeking out of his celestial throne room and gazing at Mary and Joseph in the stable. I perceive him thinking as I do, “The time is almost here when my children will know the goodness I have planned for them, and I can hardly wait for it any longer!”
For Catholics, the Advent and Christmas seasons are invitations from the Church to slow down and to meditate on the mysteries and meaning of the Incarnation. This year the Christmas figure I will be meditating on the most is not found in the crèche. He is the one who set up the original, living crèche, so that at long last he would be our Daddy, and we could rush to him like pajama-clad children on Christmas morning. Happy, continued Advent my Dear Reader; I wish you the joy of knowing the gift of Jesus. Love, Heidi.
Copyright 2011 Heidi Bratton
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