Can you remember as a child how difficult it was to wait patiently for the arrival of Christmas? I can.

As soon as the Christmas lights were put up downtown, the anticipation started. When the snow flew, the excitement grew. When the Christmas tree went up in the house, the anticipation became unbearable.

Going to bed after the late Christmas Eve service at church was almost an exercise in futility. But eventually, sleep would come, only to be a very sporadic one, as the excitement kept waking me up. 

Waiting, while anticipating something wonderful and exciting, can be very difficult. It seems that time slows down instead of speeding up. 

More than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah 9:6 states, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

This is one of the better known prophecies about the future birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. The prophecies came from numerous prophets in the day. And the people waited. They waited for generations. Sometimes in frustration they would shout out, “How long, O Lord? How long?”

For more than 700 years the generations waited for the arrival of God’s Messiah. Some gave up hope, thinking it would never happen, that it was just a fantasy or wishful thinking. But there were also those who passed on their hope to succeeding generations.

Then one night, the prophecies were fulfilled. The Messiah, the Son of God, was born. The tiny baby born in Bethlehem brought to an end centuries of waiting, and began a new way of life. 

The tiny baby, eventually grown into a man, taught and demonstrated what God desires of us. He opened the door to the forgiveness of sins. He brought the promise of eternal life with God. 

There are prophecies of another promise. Jesus promised to return to this Earth and receive to himself all those who believe in him.

As you celebrate the first coming of our Lord in just a couple of days, are you also filled with excitement about his return? It has been promised. 

How good are you at waiting?

Merry Christmas!

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.