Dear Fellow Children of God,
Have you seen the Christmas displays in the stores? Actually, Christmas decorations and gifts have been on display in stores since just after Halloween. I do not like it when the commercialization and materialization of the cultural Christmas holiday drowns out the Christmas message of the birth of God’s Son, our Savior. But I don’t mind the anticipation and the waiting. People live in anticipation of Christmas, because Christmas is worth waiting for.
Anticipation is part of the Biblical story of the people God waiting for the coming of God’s promised Savior. From the beginning of time God had been promising to send a Savior who would defeat the enemy of His people. Sometimes God’s people forgot that their greatest enemy was not so much other nations and people. Satan and the temptations to sin are the ultimate enemies of all people in the world. Sin brings suffering and pain and death. But people still anxiously waited for the promised Savior who would bring deliverance.
In the time of John the Baptist the people knew a Savior was coming and you can hear their anticipation. Listen to the words of Luke 3. 15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. 16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. They were “waiting expectantly” for God to fulfill His promise. John lets them know that he is not the one, but John points to Jesus, the Son of God, who came as God’s Messiah to save the people. Jesus was worth anticipating and waiting for.
What are you waiting for? What is on your Christmas list this year? Children like toys and bikes, dolls and sporting goods, or maybe some new computer game. Adults enjoy things for the home or music, or something to enjoy in the outdoors.
But more important than material gifts, what are the deepest hopes of your heart? What would really fulfill your dreams for your life? Personally, my deepest prayers are for God and His grace in the lives of those I care for. I pray for faith and peace and eternal life for myself and my family. I pray fervently for God’s love and grace for the people of St. John. In fact, many of our efforts at St. John are aimed at sharing God and His saving grace and love with others. I pray because God is worth waiting for.
With this in mind, do you know the words of anticipation from Psalm 130? 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. The Psalmist knows that the things of this world may bring temporary happiness. But, it is the Lord who brings love, forgiveness, redemption, and life. So, he waits for the Lord to reveal Himself in this life and forever. You see, God is worth waiting for!
While stores around us are building up anticipation of Christmas, God’s Church is observing the season of Advent. Advent is a Latin word that means “coming.” The anticipation and waiting of Advent point to the coming of God’s Son, our Savior. We constantly live in hope and anticipation for Jesus to come in our lives. The anticipation tells us that Jesus and His gifts of love and forgiveness, redemption and life, are worth waiting for.
A Child of God, Waiting Every Day to Experience God and His Love in my Life,
P.S. I thought I might have fishing pictures for this message. On Monday I took Henry fishing, which he had been asking to do. But, when we got to Seventeen Mile Lake and I opened the door the wind was blowing and blew in Henry’s face. He told me it was cold and didn’t want to get out. I drove to a closer lake, Walby, where the wind was not blowing and asked Henry if he wanted to fish there. Henry answered, “Poppy, I told you we can fish the next day! I want to go to your house and drink hot chocolate. So . . . no fish pictures this week.
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.