And she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
- Luke 1:42 – 44
In the Bible we are told that Jesus will come back soon, but soon seems to be a rather long time. Especially for those of us who are stuck in space and time. Sure, from God’s eternal perspective the end of all things is at hand. But from our limited perspective the end of all things takes a rather long time.
After all, there is still so much that is wrong with our world. The curse hasn’t been lifted. Our king hasn’t returned. So for many of us it’s all a lot of oysters and no pearls. Or in the words of C.S. Lewis, it’s always winter but never Christmas in Narnia.
What does this mean? Celebrating is serious business for those in waiting.
This is one of the reasons I love Elizabeth and the baby in her womb. When they get even the slightest hint that God will keep his promises to them, they break into a joyful celebration.
Elizabeth begins the party by making loud declarations of blessing. Next, John starts moving around the womb like he’s rockin’ around the Christmas tree. Then, Mary gets so caught up in the Jesus is Coming Party that she bursts into her own song of praise. Finally, there is the shy member of the party. The Holy Spirit. He’s the one who pops the cork and makes sure the joy keeps flowing kind of like a great host who spends his time refreshing drinks and making sure everyone has a great time.
In this unrestrained outburst of joy, I think God is saying something of great importance to us: Don’t forget to celebrate.
Yes, the wait is long. Yes, life can be hard. Yes, we can feel weary and stretched thin. So we must punctuate our existence with joyful times of celebration. Laughter must find its way into our hearts.
Why? Because the Holy Spirit invites us to experience joy. He wants to remind us, like he reminded John and Elizabeth, that God is coming to us. He wants to show us that this life is not the only one we will ever know. There is a wedding feast that is coming. There is a new heaven and a new earth. The bridegroom is making himself ready. And we are invited to that eternal party.
Elizabeth’s loud shouts and John’s joyful jumps are the Holy Spirit’s invitation to us to a joyful celebration. It’s God’s way of calling us to push back the bleakness of waiting with bright lights around a tree and joyful songs about a white Christmas.
So this Christmas make sure you leave room for celebration. If you know Jesus, you have the most powerful reason in the world to do this: Jesus is coming back for you. One day the weariness will be over. One day the curse will be lifted.
So for a moment, consider this reality. Right now, all over the world people are stringing lights, playing special music, baking cookies, making memories, buying gifts and preparing lavish feasts. They are interrupting their long waiting with a little celebrating. Make sure you join them. It will be good for you and it is what God invites you to.