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Plain and Simple for Dec. 5, 2013 / December 03, 2013
What was the worst Christmas present that you ever received? Was there ever a time that you got your hopes up for that perfect computer, iPhone, Cabbage Patch Doll, or Tickle Me Elmo, only to be given socks and underwear? I guess we have all had our expectations dashed at some point.

This past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. It is the time when we start thinking about the coming of Christ at Christmas and the time when Christ will come again. It seems to me that many people had very different expectations of how the Messiah would act when he came the first time. They were disappointed when Jesus did not live up to those expectations. We have been disappointed that Jesus has not come back in these 2,000 years that we have been waiting for his appearance. It is difficult to keep alert when we have been waiting so long. But maybe there is a point in there somewhere if we will just pay attention.

Annie Dillard once wrote that “how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” In other words, we can miss life by constantly waiting for life to happen. We think that everything will be fine if we can only get through college, if we can only marry the right person, if we can only get the right job, if we can only make enough to retire. Our expectations are bound to be dashed because we have missed the in-between times while we waited for—what?

God promised us that salvation would come to us in the form of Christ Jesus. He came in the form of a baby while people went looking for a warrior king. What disappoints us this Christmas? Are we looking for Christ in all the wrong places? Will he be found on Black Friday, Black Monday, or Black Thursday? Christ will be present on all of those days if we know what we are looking for. Still, I doubt that Christ will present himself in all the holiday folderol.

I read one epitaph from England that read, “Dead at 30; Buried at 60.” I can think of scarcely anything more tragic. We can chase after the perfect gift and run around like fools. We can go to party after party and drink all we want. But Christ is right in front of us. He wants us to find him in the simplicity of living our lives. He wants us to find him in the love that he represents.

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