I had to look it up in the dictionary to make sure I had the right word.
- 1 a : the act, action, or state of expecting
Example: that feeling of optimistic expectancy that fills theatergoers as they wait for the curtain to rise
I took this picture with my phone. Quality is horrible, I know. (Please don’t compare my photography with my husband’s. I beg of you.)
In Latin America in traditional Catholic homes a manger scene is set up around Christmas time. Sometimes they are rather elaborate. I remember seeing one as a teen; a miniature set that included a hillside with the stable at the top. The shepherds and wise men (plus a bunch of other miniatures; I think Santa Claus was one) were coming up the hill with their animals to worship the baby Jesus. Baby Jesus, though, was not in his traditional place in the manger. He is not in the manger scene at all until December 24th at midnight when we celebrate his birth. I love this tradition and I love manger scenes. So, in our house we have a manger scene with an empty manger.
We talk about the empty tomb at Easter. That IS the most important element to our faith! That’s the final statement. The empty manger represents the beginning to the end; the long awaited deliverance for humankind yet to come. Those walking in darkness had yet to see the great light. The time between the Old and New Testament was dark. We know some of the history, but it was a dormant time of people living, surviving, waiting. The beam of hope shining into darkness; the beginning of the era of grace and salvation for humankind…it gives me goosebumps. This is why I love Christmas!
In the past two days I’ve read about two young mothers that have passed away in their thirties leaving a husband and children behind. Families in our stage of life. One lost her struggle with cancer; the other died of a unexpected heart condition. I have a heart condition, next year it could be me and my family. Life is fragile. This year what will the holidays be like for these families? Will it be possible for them to ever feel whole, loved, comforted again? Trauma and other experiences mark us forever. We might walk with a limp and only the Great Comforter can make us whole.
The beam of hope penetrating the darkness. A messenger. A heavenly choir. A history changing message given to the most unlikely recipients. A manger holding a baby. A promise fulfilled. And each person who believes that promise receives salvation, freedom, peace, healing for a broken and wounded race.
It gives me goosebumps, I tell ya!
This is Thanksgiving week in the States. I am thankful for the empty manger and the reminder that our waiting has ended, hope has come. It is the beginning of the end; our expectancy for hope fulfilled.