"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:11
Christmas Eve is one of my favorite nights of the whole year. Now, this is coming from a girl who usually pays very little mind to Christmas and its accolades. I'm not sure why this year has been different. Maybe I've watched Elf a few extra times and I secretly aspire to be the female version of Buddy the Elf. Whatever it is, Advent has been such a rich season this year and Christmas Eve has been spot on. There's something about this night that's a bit more serene and for about 24 hours there's a magic surrounding a baby who shares His bed with farm animals. The story comes to life all over again and this year more than most.
Honestly, I can't help but wonder if waiting made the difference.
We have a whole season to prepare for Christmas. The season of Christmas isn't over in a day, mind you, but we do spend a lot of time preparing for this one day. The journey to the stable makes the joy of what happens there all the more rich. The prophecies from ancient days, people waiting for the rescue of a coming Messiah, Mary's visit from an angel, Joseph's obedience to God, Elizabeth's miraculous pregnancy and encouragement for her cousin, wise men following a star to the new king, a physical journey to Bethlehem. That's a lot of build up, folks--Christ's birth is the culmination of all these subplots. Great things have come from waiting in faith.
I think of the scene with Tom Hanks and Geena Davis toward the end of A League of Their Own. Davis's character has decided to leave the baseball league and Hanks's character asks her how she could just walk away from something that was so great.
"It just got too hard." She responds.
Hanks looks at her and says, "the hard is what makes it great."
For us, the waiting makes it great. The depth of Advent, the intricacies of the story, the hugeness of our God unfolding in the form of a tiny little bundle of joy. So sweet are the great things we have waited for.
Tonight, He has arrived. This isn't the kind of thing that you wait for, get caught up in the hype, and then find it to be simply overrated. Tonight we celebrate the arrival of the hope that doesn't disappoint. How sweet it is. The waiting is the icing on the sweetest of cakes.