We were spoiled with mild weather until mid-November. Trees were still dressed in different shades of gold, red and brown. It was so mild that my neighbor’s magnolia tree was starting to bud with new life, just as confused as the rest of nature! Suddenly temperatures dropped and we had to bundle up. That wasn’t so bad; it was the fog that weighed on our mood. As the mist rolled in at night, it would hang as a heavy slate cloak over towns and fields. What was forecasted as morning fog, making room for sun, would hold tenaciously to late afternoon. From my high perch, I could watch the barely visible houses across and beside but no further. Finally the sun would make and appearance, as if to tease us – just before sundown. Then a sprinkling of snow followed for a day or two but no more than that. The haze has now lifted to make room for dull skies where a timid sun tries to peek through from time to time.
The weather hasn’t dampened the feverish Christmas activities and preparations. Stores aglow with star-lights and Christmas decorations. Christmas markets materializing overnight, one village clamoring for attention over the other. Rich aromas wafting from stalls promoting Glühwein and hot apple cider, mixed with the scent of Bratwurst. Colourful packages and trays of Lebkuchen and small gingerbread balls, dusted with powdered sugar bring cheer to all.
This is also the time where most women are busy baking spiced cookies, which in turn are offered in festive bags from house to house, and whenever visitors drop by, adding a festive feeling throughout the month.
We’re also the third Advent on the Christian calendar. A time of anticipation for the celebration of the birth of Christ, two weeks away. For some reason, this time I’m struck how this yearly Christian remembrance renews excitement in great and small. The manger displays, with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and all the figurines that represent the most significant occasion, when God gave the world His gift of forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.
Yet, while we can peer into the past to a momentous event that, as Christians, still shapes us today, and those who long for a meaningful life, we can’t forget to look to the future. Conceivably the lack of observance for something that hasn’t yet taken place could be the cause. How can we tangibly anticipate Christ’s return with hope and excitement when we can’t quite imagine it? I would like to suggest, that during this special season we take time to reflect on how we can prepare our hearts to this equally important future event – maybe not so distant after all.
Are our hearts and minds ready for Christ’s return? This future phenomenon is a fact, mentioned not only by the apostles but by Jesus himself. Except in circles where prophecies are studied and discussed, one seldom, if ever, hears about this divine Second Coming.
Just as many hearts are filled with rejoicing at celebrating Jesus’s first coming, as the Babe who became humanity’s saviour and reconciler between Creator and creature, may Christ fill us with the same kind of excited anticipation to his return.
I leave you with these words, occasioned by those two separate events:
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. . . Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 2 verses 11, 13-14 – New International Version)
Jeus said: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24 verse 30 – New Revised Standard Version)
“After [Jesus] said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'” (Book of Acts, chapter 1, verses 9-11 – New International Version)
Wishing you a peace-filled and joyous Christmas and a New Year 2015 filled with expectation, and memorable and delightful moments