Learn how to get more out of Christmas through the gift of anticipation. As we appreciate what God has already done for us, we can trust him for our future. We can anticipate the good things he was in store for us, like a child waiting to open their presents on Christmas.
Hello everyone and welcome to episode 82. Today is the third of our December series on Relationships at Christmas.
We’re coming off the 3rd Sunday of Advent, which occurred just a few days ago. This 3rd Sunday traditionally focuses on Joy. The joy of Christmas. Did you know that you can experience the joy of every Christmas 3 times?
You really can! Hang around and listen, as I explain.
The three joys of Christmas
The first joy found in each Christmas is anticipating it, looking forward to Christmas and imagining what it will be like. Then there’s the joy of Christmas Day; and all that happens during those 24 hours. That’s the 2nd joy. Lastly, there’s the joy of remembering afterward what happened on Christmas. It’s reflecting on the events of our Christmas and how what happened touched us in some way. For Today, We’ll Focus on Just the First Joy of Christmas, the Christmas Gift of Anticipation
The first joy: Anticipation of Christmas
- It starts with Mary, the mother of Jesus that we read about in the Gospel of Luke in the Bible. We talked a bit about Mary in last week’s episode, #80, but to review she was a teenager from the little village of Nazareth. One day the Angel Gabriel, a messenger from God, visits Mary.
- He then tells Mary 3 things that will happen to her in the next few months. She will: 1) conceive a child even though she’s a virgin, 2) give birth to a son, 3)name him Jesus (Luke 1:31)
- After this, Gabriel tells Mary 5 things about her yet-to-be-born son, Jesus, and the impact he will have on the world (Luke 1:32)
He will very great
He will be called the Son of the Most High
The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David
He will reign over Israel, and finally
His kingdom will never end
Mary hurries off to share the good news
- Soon after Mary gets this news from God, she hurries off to her elderly relative, Elizabeth.
- Shortly after her arrival at Elizabeth’s house, Mary shares her joy with Elizabeth what God told her through Gabriel. You can feel the joy in her words as she anticipates what God is going to do through her son, who is actually His son!
- Mary praises God for this incredible earth-shattering historic event that is about to happen, and how God chose to get the ball rolling by using her, a nondescript teenage girl of humble origins from the podunk little village of Nazareth.
- What a wonderful Christmas gift of anticipation Mary received from God!
- Mary anticipates her soon-to-be-elevated status, not because of anything she did, but only because of what God chooses to do with this humble teenage girl. She is in awe of being the recipient of such a great blessing.
- This is a beautiful and encouraging relationship story between lowly Mary and the God of the universe. If God will bless someone like Mary, maybe he will bless me too
- Mary’s Christmas gift of anticipation is based on the character of God and what he did for many generations before hers
Read Luke 1: 46-56, The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise.
She praises God in response to Elizabeth who tells her will be called “blessed”
- Shows mercy from generation to all who fear him
- Has done tremendous things, like scattering the proud and haughty
- Brought princes down from their thrones
- Exalted the humble
- Filled the hungry with good things
- Sent the rich away with empty hands
- Helped his servant Israel
- Has remembered to be merciful
- Made promises to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever
Because Mary calls to mind what God has done in the past for her ancestors, she can trust God and anticipate more of his goodness in moving forward in her life, and in the life of her people.
And what joy there is in this Christmas gift of anticipation of what Jesus is going to do next. Mary set the stage for the rest of us in showing that the real joy of Christmas is found in a relationship with Jesus.
What about you? Where are you finding joy this Christmas? Is there anything you can remember that God has done for you in the past, that makes it easier for you to anticipate the good things he will do in the future?
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.
To best experience the Christmas gift of anticipation of what is to come. we need to reflect on what has already come. What God has already done in our lives that speak to his character and gives us confidence to trust him in what is yet to come.
Here’s what we can all do in response to today’s program
What can you anticipate about your relationship with Jesus, based on what he is doing now in your life, and what he did in the past?
If you can’t point to many things Jesus has done for you, it’s only because you don’t know him well enough…yet. It’s never too late to start getting to know him. Why not start today?
Do what Mary did in Luke 1:38, she just believed. Not in an “I hope so manner”. but rather in affirmation of what God was telling her through the angel Gabriel. Elizabeth tells Mary You are to be called blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said. (Luke 1:45)
As always, another thing you could do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. The easiest way is to put your thoughts in an email and send them to me, email@example.com. Or you can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.
In closing I hope you will savor the joy found in experiencing Christmas in 3 ways this year, starting with the Christmas Gift of Anticipation of what is to come. And just like Mary, I hope your Christmas joy is based on your relationship with Jesus. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
If finding more joy during the Christmas season interests you, you might want to listen to episode 46 from last year, Where Joy to the World is Found.
Our relationship quote of the week
If you come at four in the afternoon, I'll begin to be happy by three.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
That’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now.
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