Christmas is over, at least for 2016, and depending on how your weekend went you are either thankful or sad the day has passed. For most of us, no matter our perceptions of this year’s Christmas, there was, and perhaps still is, an excitement and expectation surrounding Christmas. It’s a big day, and we either still have or can remember at least one Christmas where we were excited to see the sunrise. At its best Christmas brings family, food, fun and gifts. There are loads of excitement—then it is all over. You wake up the next morning and all the expectation and excitement you felt is gone, and this week is like every other week.
I wonder if Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the prophets, and everyone else in Israel who rejoiced at the birth of Jesus felt the same way. With the exception of Luke’s eleven verses in Luke 2:41-51, the Bible is silent on the life of Jesus for nearly 30 years (Luke 3:18). I imagine there must have been some letdown. Both Mary and Joseph were visited by angels who announced the birth of Jesus. That’s some serious hype. For centuries prophets spoke and longed to see the night in the manger. But what happened the next day? My guess is the same things that happen after the birth of every new family’s first child. Monday there was feeding, diaper changing, and crying. Mary and Joseph were sleep deprived for a while. The shepherds? Back to work, tending sheep. Oh, there was excitement, but not the kind you would want. I mean, who wants to flee your home for another country to save the life of your son (Mat. 2:13-21). Eventually, life settled down in Nazareth.
It was some thirty years before people began to see and hear what Jesus was about. For Mary, thirty years of mothering, thirty years of treasuring up everything she experienced in her heart before she saw Jesus’ ministry. And Joseph? He’s not mentioned after the birth narrative, and many scholars believe he likely died before Jesus’ public ministry began. Years of being a father and perhaps Joseph never saw. It was the waiting period, and everyone who has loved God throughout the ages has been through one. Adam and Eve waited for the seed. Abraham waited for a son. The Israelites waited in Egypt, and then for the prophet like Moses to come (Deut. 18:15). If you were alive during the three years of Jesus’ ministry, you waited for him to do something to deliver his people. And if you are a Christian living any time during the last two thousand years you have waited for Christ’s return and consumption of his kingdom. From the beginning of God’s rescue plan, the children of God have been waiting people.
It’s easy to feel the letdown today. Jesus has come, and we want everything done right now. I know I do. I want the fight against sin to be over, I want a resurrection body, and most of all I want to be with God on the new earth he will make. But today, we wait. It’s not all bad news. The waiting is not useless, and what we do during our waiting really matters. Do you think the love and care of a mother was wasted as Mary waited thirty years? Of course not. I love that about the story of Jesus. There were thirty years of Mary being a mom, and every day mattered. And the truth is, whatever you do to the glory of God today, another day in a long line of waiting, matters as well. That’s a great truth that flows from the reality of serving a sovereign God–the mundane matters. I don’t know how, but I know that it does, and I want to spend my waiting day knowing that even the smallest things done out of love for God and people matter.