I grew up with a mom who loved giving Christmas gifts early…and I loved it! What child wouldn’t? One minute you are dreaming about playing Yars' Revenge on the Atari 2600, thinking it's still two weeks away; and the next thing you know it is in your hands! It was amazing. And I must confess that I often do the same with my own kids.
Oh, I can see a few of your heads nodding in disapproval. "It's ADVENT; Christmas doesn't begin until Mass on Christmas Eve!" That's the liturgical calendar, alright. But I think the early Christmas gift has a neat lesson to teach us, too.
Christmas is not only when we cast our glance backward in celebration of our Lord's first coming; it is also when look forward - to the day of His return. Many of us, at least unconsciously, feel that Day to be a long way off. (Two thousand years have already elapsed.) But the truth is that it could be just around the corner. We expect certain prophetic events first, but the exact day and moment of Jesus' return are going to come as a shock. It's not on a calendar; we can't watch the seconds counting down in Times Square. One second we will be slugging through difficulties, and the next we will be staring into the eyes of the One we've longed for our entire lives!
That's what the early Christmas gift reminds us of. A child is going along, trudging through the loooong weeks before Christmas Vacation, when BAM! Christmas suddenly breaks out!
The Lord might come for you or me at any second. None of us knows when our lives will end. The post I am writing may never be finished. Or perhaps I will be worrying about the big meeting coming up at work when...Christmas suddenly breaks out! That is quite a thought.