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St Johns Southgate

10 Dec 2015

There’s nothing quite like seeing a little child bursting out of their skin with excitement. The jumping up and down and the squealing with delight is quite a sight to behold.

My five-year-old daughter recently exhibited such behaviours in anticipation of her little brother’s second birthday. He’s still a little too young to properly understand what it’s all about, but it didn’t stop her from being thrilled for him. She was counting down the days with wide eyes and delightful questions about the presents that awaited him and how we might mark the occasion.

Before dawn on the big day she came running into our bedroom asking if we could wake him up so he could open his presents. Looking at the face of this little girl with such a heightened sense of anticipation was a beautiful thing.

To see her anticipate something with such vitality and fullness of spirit forced me into a moment of self-reflection. I asked myself: “When was the last time you felt that way about anything?”

It was a good question and one that I suspect might stump your average Aussie adult. Maybe you have to go back as far as being a kid waiting for Christmas to conjure up such a memory?

Studying toy catalogues, begging your parents and then shaking the boxes under the tree is quite the Advent tradition and it’s entirely appropriate from a spiritual perspective because Advent is a season of anticipation. But how can we grownups get excited about Jesus coming into our lives at Christmas? How can we feel the excitement that I saw in my daughter’s eyes about the birthday of another?

To be honest, I don’t think anything’s going to do it for me. In reality, the busyness of life, with its never ending to-do-lists, will probably keep me from even coming close to joyful anticipation. Another Advent and Christmas will come and go and that will be that. Perhaps you can relate to that sentiment.  

But you know what? It doesn’t matter!

It doesn’t matter how I feel or how you feel – or how excited we are about Jesus coming at Christmas. It doesn’t matter because Jesus comes anyway.

Jesus, God’s only son – the saviour of the world – came to earth as a little baby precisely because we’re preoccupied, too busy, too inward looking to gaze with any permanency toward the divine.

This Advent and Christmas, don’t worry if your experience is like that of my two-year-old son – not really sure how to anticipate the birthday and not really sure what it’s all about – but even so, still being there, opening the gifts, and responding with joy.

Like a toddler at Christmas, you too are free to just open the box, to see the gift that is the baby Jesus, and to smile.

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