This sense of anticipation surrounds Christmas in other ways too. The traditional season of Advent focuses on the expectation of Jesus’ return as well as the expectation of his birth. Centuries before Jesus’ intriguing birth, prophets were telling their people that something was coming, God was hatching a plan and was about to do something significant.
There are numerous Old Testament expressions of this expectation, and in the centuries that followed there were countless theories about what exactly this ’something’ was which God was bringing about. Ancient Jews studied their scriptures and tried to predict God’s coming. With the same enthusiastic confidence many Christians today study the references to Jesus’ return. And try to work out what to expect.
However, when God did come - when he did do his thing - it wasn’t anything like what people were expecting. No-one was expecting a newborn child, lying in the manger of an ordinary home. No-one was expecting a bunch of shepherds and a handful of foreign mystics to be the first on the scene.
The adult Jesus reminds us that God still has more plan up his sleeve. There is another something which is coming - which we need to be ready for. But he advises us not to waste time speculating what that something will be like. God is the master fo the unexpected. We will know it when we see it, but it won’t be anything like anything we have imagined. We just have to be ready.
by Robert Harrison
the life and loves of a disciple of Jesus