Sunday, December 17, 2006

Isaiah 13:6-13; Psalms 63, 98; Hebrews 12:18-29; John 3:22-30

I love the expectations of things to come. In some ways the thrill of knowing something good is about to happen is better than the event itself. Have you ever experienced this? I had such an experience as a young teenager. Christmas was always a major event in our family. I am one of five children, so my parents were really challenged to fill all those stockings. They allocated a certain amount of money to each of us. I loved Christmas, and I still do. I love anticipating the wonderful event, though I now look at it very differently. As a teenager I had assembled my own stereo system back when the technology was very new. I wanted to get a set of early stereo LPs that were quite expensive. In October I asked if I could have the LPs for Christmas. My parents said I could, but it would be my only present. I ordered it, and it came early in November. As excited as I was to play these LPs, I put them away and did not even open the package until Christmas morning. I think it was my best Christmas ever. I still have the LPs some forty years later, but I also have the vivid memory of how excited I was. It wasn’t just the LPs; it was knowing they were there. Their value increased every day I waited for them.

Today’s readings all deal with expectations of the Lord’s coming but in very different ways. The Old Testament gives us Isaiah’s proclamation against Babylon and its pending destruction on the Lord’s Day. This is a very different form of expectation than mine. The Lord’s Day will bring torment and anguish from the Lord’s anger. While it describes the people’s terror, let us consider God’s suffering to see his people as they are and not as they should be.

The two psalms also deal with expectations in very different ways. In Psalm 63, David seeks God in the wilderness. His expectation is based on hope and the knowledge that God will deliver the relief he seeks. Psalm 98 is a hymn of joy and a great victory song. For musicians like me, this expresses the joy in using God’s given gift of music to worship and thank him.

In John’s gospel, we have the story of John the Baptist anticipating the coming of the messiah and preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. Can you somehow feel the joy and excitement that John must have felt knowing that the savior of the world was actually coming and that God had chosen John to prepare the way? Wow, it makes my LPs seem pretty insignificant.

May God bless you with excitement this Advent as you wait for the greatest gift of all – the baby Jesus. Amen.

- John Dickie

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