The season of Advent is here, the time of waiting with eager anticipation for the celebration of a birth. My husband and I had a five year wait for our first child. That felt like forever, and becoming a mother an impossible dream. Abram’s story in Genesis makes our five year wait sound short. According to Genesis, Abram was 75 and childless when God told him: “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1-2 NIV). Eleven years later, Abram got tired of waiting for his wife, Sarai to have a baby. He conceived Ishmael with Hagar, his wife’s servant. It was another 14 years before Isaac, the child of the promise, was finally born to the renamed Abraham and Sarah.
The promises surrounding the birth of Jesus go beyond a “mere” quarter century. The books foretelling his birth were regularly read in Hebrew worship, but as the years turned into centuries, many people didn’t believe it would ever happen. When Jesus did come, they didn’t recognize him. Maybe those unsophisticated shepherds recognized Jesus as the answer to the promises because they had solitary night vigils under the stars to watch, wonder, and anticipate.
More than two thousand years ago, the Bible promised that Jesus would come again. Have we given up hope that the promise could be true like the folks who lived when Jesus was first born? Maybe we need to be more like the shepherds, and watch with patience and anticipation for his coming. Advent isn’t about what’s going to be under the tree, but about who is going to be there. We aren’t waiting in vain. Jesus is coming.