Christmas: The Heritage of Longing

I love and hate Christmas.

I feel like most single women can echo the sentiment.

It’s wonderful to spend the time with family, to decorate the house, to enjoy the homecoming of friends you haven’t seen in a while. Candlelight services, caroling, advent. It’s a wonderful time of year.

And then there is also the awkward time spent with family, the stress of hosting get-togethers, crazy malls. The forgetting of the meaning of this season.

And I don’t mean the world forgetting to stop and celebrate Christ’s birth. We live in a fallen world where Christ’s sovereignty is denied on an hourly basis. Of course I don’t expect the general population to celebrate Christ’s birth.

 I mean what we forget within the body of Christ.

See, part of what makes Christmas a hard time of year for me is the longing. I long to share romantic Christmas dates with someone special. I long to have a family of my own to make Christmas memories with. I at least just long to say yes when the “are you seeing someone?” brigade intrudes on holiday gatherings.

It’s easy to let the unmet longing shade the season of hope and joy, but I think to ignore the longing is to miss something important in this season.

Because Christmas is a celebration of longing.

The world was in desperate need of the messiah and the longing for his presence throughout the Old Testament is unmistakable. In Christ’s coming to earth, that longing was met and through his death, fulfilled.

In this season of advent, we now long for Christ’s return.

I was reminded by a friend earlier this month that God has given each of us specific longings and needs to draw us in to him. We try to fill those longings with relationships, or status, or possessions, but of course that doesn’t work.

Having a boyfriend, or husband and family would not ease this hunger in my soul this season. Not really.

Because there is still great longing in me for what will not be met on this side of heaven. And so often I misdiagnose that longing and loneliness I feel to be that of a relationship with a man rather than my need for unbroken relationship with God.

But that longing is why we celebrate this season. We look forward to having this longing met in the second coming of our king. And we give thanks for the first coming and the sacrifice that makes our longing able to be met.

We are descendants in a heritage of longing. We are beautiful beggars waiting for our hunger to be satisfied.

This season is an invitation to face our longings head on and seek the truth of what we really desire.

So this is my challenge as we head into this week. As you experience the longing, loneliness, or discontentment of your holiday season, look at the feeling in light of advent. In light of the anticipation and desire of what is before us.

Rest in the knowledge that your longing will one day be met.

Until then, may you find joy and peace this Christmas season.

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