15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation… 18And … he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. Colossians 1:15, 18-19
Advent is pregnant with anticipation. It is the season of expectancy.
This feels freshly true for Robin and me this year. Our first grandchild will be born in 2022! There is great excitement for his birth. Through the technology of apps, we get weekly updates on the baby’s development and growth. One week, the baby’s nose, mouth and ears started to take shape. The next week, he doubled in size to that of a blueberry, as his arms and legs began to grow. A month later, he was kicking, stretching and even hiccupping. As I write this, he is now the size of a head of cauliflower, sleeping and waking on a regular schedule with a very active brain. We are so proud of that little guy!
Every birth is miraculous, but none more than Jesus. There was a deep longing and expectancy. Anticipation built. Then it happened. Jesus, “the firstborn of creation” not only entered his own creation, but his mother’s womb – miracle of miracles. “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.” Every week, the infinite God grew. He came for us by entering fully into our humanity.
The incarnation of God through Jesus can be called the greatest miracle of all. Even Jesus’ resurrection has meaning for us only because he was born in the same way we were. The prerequisite of a bodily resurrection is a bodily birth. The infinite God entered fully into the finite limitations of your life and mine in order that we can enter into the fullness of his eternal life.
Jesus’ birth announcement didn’t stop at his first “birth.” Paul reminds us that Jesus was also “the firstborn from among the dead.” Our birth became his birth so that his resurrection can become ours! As C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “The Son of God became (hu)man, so we can become children of God.” Jesus was born like us, so that we can be born again, like him.
Pregnancy ignites joyful anticipation, even though other challenges and circumstances in our lives remain. It gives us a new perspective. Our grandson’s life is a present reality we celebrate, yet we are also filled with expectancy for the fullness of his arrival. We can’t wait to meet him. We can’t help wondering what he will be like. We are excited for our children as they enter parenthood. Life as we have known it has changed and takes on a new dimension. We live with an active, engaged expectancy.
It is this same kind of wonder and awe we enter into this Advent season. It is a season of expectancy, pregnant with joyful anticipation. Jesus’ birth changed everything. The reality of his first birth invites the anticipation of our “new birth” through his resurrection. Peter wrote,
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).
The season of Advent invites us to look back at Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem like ours, so we can live every day now in the joyful anticipation of our new birth – and that of all creation, like his. Christmas not only celebrates Jesus’ birth like us in the past, but ours, like him, now! Like a baby in the womb, our lives our pregnant, developing and growing in anticipation of becoming like him. Our challenges and circumstances may remain, but Jesus’ birth renovates our perspective. This new birth is a present reality we celebrate, as we live in the joyful expectancy of the fullness of eternal life we were born for. Life as we have known it changes and takes on a new dimension. We live with an active, engaged expectancy.
I wish you great joy this advent season, as we live into the celebration and pregnant anticipation of his birth – and ours.