The definition of the word “Anticipation”: noun; expectation or hope, realization in advance; foretaste, the act of anticipating. I did not need to look up this word – I completely understand its meaning. Jody and I dated for 5 years before marrying in 1986. Anticipation was both of our middle names! Jody and I met in high school and were good friends for two years before we began dating. Our first date was to the Senior Prom – it was magical (Love is a Verb https://wordwashedwife.com/blog/2017/6/18/love-is-verb-part-1). We then left to attend colleges that were 1,031 miles apart. These were the days before cell phones, the internet, Facetime, and e-mail. We maintained our connection in phone booths with stacks of quarters. We wrote letters … uncountable number of letters! Jody and I were engaged for two years and were both virgins when we married. I say again, I completely understand “anticipation!” I am sure that Jody and I were miserable to be around because when you are intensely anticipating an event, you talk about it a lot … almost moaning in desire. Sorry, friends and family, I’m sure those were long years for you guys too 😊.
I was reminded of this truth when I decorated one of my eleven Christmas trees this season. Yes, I have 11. Sue me! I really love Christmas. This year as Jody and I were decorating the Family History tree, we noticed that we had no fewer than three ornaments that were engraved with some sort of time line or count down message. “Counting the Days – 1983.” “Almost there – 1984.” “Last Christmas apart – 1985.” Neither of us remembered buying any of these ornaments, so they must have been gifts! Ugh! Once again, sorry friends and family! Jody and I were two love-sick puppies. We felt every one of those 1,031 miles. We spent the five years apart counting down days between visits to see each other and days until we could be married 😊.
Anticipation is re-energized each year around the holidays as children
anxiously wait for Christmas morning to finally arrive!
The joys of Christmas mornings with our children will keep me warm until I draw my last breath on this earth. I love my memories around our Christmas tree. Hours spent together as a family! Hmmmm … wait, maybe this explains why I now have 11 trees. I love that God lavishes His love on us, by making us his children (1 John 3:1). I am also thankful that Jody and I were allowed to rain that love on our three children. We do Christmas big!
I was telling someone the other day that I think my youngest child Michael believed in Santa way past a normal age because of the lavish nature of Christmases at our home. From a very young age he knew his father to be very thrifty, so every Christmas morning when he woke up to find the “loot” filling our living room, he exclaimed that there “must be a Santa – his dad would never do all this 😊!”
“A Child is Born to us!
A Son is given to us!
And He will be our ruler.
He will be called, ‘Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).’”
Jody and I didn’t teach our children about the lavish love of God just through gift giving. We also taught them through devotion and study of the Word of God. Every year, and at the evening meal in the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, my family would light candles on an Advent wreath that I placed in the center of the dinner table. Advent is the season when we anticipate Christ’s coming into the world. My Advent wreath is a hand-tinned wreath that we purchased from a vendor in Germany Christmas Market. The wreath is formed in the shape of a star and holds five candles – four at the end of points of the star, and one in the center of the star. It is one of my favorite possessions. On the first Sunday of Advent, my family would light the first candle, one at the end of one of the points of the star, and talk about Jesus with the discussion focused on one aspect of Christ. And every night of the week we would relight that same candle and continue the talk about what the candle represented. On the second Sunday of Advent, we would light two candles: the first candle of the first week and a second candle for the second week. We did the same in the third and fourth weeks of Advent. Traditionally, the first three candles are purple to represent Jesus’ royalty. The fourth candle, a pink candle, represents our anticipation of the birth of Christ and is not lit until the final Sunday before Christmas. The fifth candle, a white candle in the center of the wreath, represents our Emmanuel, Jesus himself and is lit on Christmas Day. I do not know if this way of celebrating Advent is a common practice among Believers any more, but I strongly encourage it. The lighting of an Advent wreath is a lovely tradition that points us to Jesus through dinner talk about the Word of God.
Though the world is hard at work trying to commercialize this holiday, let us let’s keep our focus on anticipating the birth of Jesus!
These are the Advent verses my family used in our dinner table talks about Jesus:
Justice (purple candle). “As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10).’” “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” My husband and I would discuss with our children the fall of man (Genesis 3). We would then discuss the nature of sin … doing “bad” things … on whatever level they could understand. Next, we would explain God’s plan for redemption, since He could not be around sin. In the beginning, early believers had to go to a priest and sacrifice animals to be forgiven, because their sins had weight – a blood sacrifice was what was expected. This was a lot of work and was inefficient. God, we explained to our children, had a better plan – Jesus … “a lamb led to the slaughter for our eternal redemption of sins (Isaiah 53:7).”
Freedom (purple candle). “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36).” When Jesus entered the picture, the weight of our sin was removed! We are now free from the bondage of sin. God’s plans are always better than ours. But we cannot misuse this freedom. Don’t abuse this liberty and sin, but rather stay out of its yoke (Galatians 5:1). “You, my brothers and sister, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:13-14).”
Peace (purple candle). “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace (Psalms 29:11).” “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).” There is none like Jesus! He is so many things to us at the very same time. But among all these, the peace that Jesus brings into our hearts and lives is perhaps the one that we rely upon most to walk in this world.
REJOICE (pink candle). “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased (Luke 2: 8-14)!’” We have reason to rejoice! What incredible joy we have in knowing that God used His prophets to prepare us for the coming of His son. Written fifteen hundred years before Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Genesis 1:26 tells of Jesus being part of Creation thousands of years before His birth! Written seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, we see in the prophecy of Isaiah that Jesus will be born for us – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given (Isaiah 9:6).”
Emmanuel (white candle). “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which means God with us (Matthew 1:22-23).” Because our God loves us so much, He sent His son to be with us and among us! God is committed to us and is present with us. In some ways, this attribute of God is the most important and most precious of all God’s attributes.
As you anticipate the holiday season this year, don’t neglect to make room in your heart, in your home and for your children to understand the true wonder of the gift we received on that Christmas so long ago.
MORE ANTICIPATION: I am also excitedly anticipating the second coming of Jesus as well. If I were to design an advent wreath, it would have a sixth candle holder for the week after Christmas, and it would be called, “Expecting His Triumphant Return.” It would be a gold candle- in honor of His great value! When I was a young wife and mom, I remember selfishly thinking that I was not ready for His return – I had way too many worldly goals unmet. Silly youth! All earthly goals pale at the prospect of seeing King Jesus return in the clouds to collect us, his bride, the church! Now that is a wedding celebration that we should all be anticipating!
Faithful reader, grab your spouse by the hand, sit in the glow of a beautifully lit Christmas tree and take a moment to pray. Ask God to show you ways to lavishly live out the meaning of Christmas each and every day in your marriage, in your home, and in your neighborhood. Ask God to fill you with anticipation about the birth of our King and His Second Coming! Keep reading my friends and stay washed in His Word!
But the LORD will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Emmanuel.
What I saw in my vision hasn’t happened yet. But some day,
a king of Israel will appear like a star.