“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” -Psalm 130:5-6
Each year, the first week of Advent always includes the Paul Anderson Christmas Dinner Theater in Vidalia. Sold out for two consecutive nights, it is a highlight of the year. It presents an opportunity for our young men to do something they have never done before. The preparation and practice begins in September and culminates with an excellent presentation the first week of December. It is wonderfully entertaining for our large audience.
Always innovating, the play brings a Christmas message centered around an interesting story which introduces the audience to the life of the young men at the home as well as to the young men themselves. They work hard in preparation and are surprised they really can do this, producing a truly top-quality performance.
Why put so much work into this Advent/Christmas season presentation? Well, among many other things, it presents a teaching opportunity about the point of Advent, leading up to the celebration of the day of Christmas. Christmas involves so much prior preparation to this one-day celebration of Jesus’ birth. The birth of Jesus had millennia of intentional, purposeful, declarative preparation along with patient and perseverant waiting by believers for their promised Messiah to finally come.
Jesus was not born on Earth in a milieu of total silence and sudden surprise. Prophets predicted, suffered, and died. Forerunners lived, taught, and died. The Spirit was continuously at work, guiding and inspiring. The Word of God was being meticulously inscribed on scrolls. All of this was in preparation for the entrance of God in the flesh into the home of humanity.
The Redeemer was actually promised immediately after Adam and Eve’s fall (Genesis 3:15), but its fulfillment was many, many generations yet future. Those generations were provided many kinds of promises through prophets and human forerunners (those human figures who by their lives and teaching foreshadowed Jesus Christ) that the Redeemer would one day appear. Appear He did, in the fullness of time – the perfect time which God had determined by His own counsel, though, as the Apostle John wrote, “He came unto His own, but His own received Him not!”
This Advent Season presents no different primary theme than the last or the next. It basically invites you to better understand the anticipation of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ in light of the longevity of patiently waiting for the first. You cannot, in your own one-generation-constrained life, fully mimic the longevity of thousands of years and many generations of waiting for the Messiah to come, but you can envision it by faith with a biblically-infused mind and imagination.
The months of preparation by our young men for this play can provide an Advent lesson. The season itself intends to recreate the waiting experience of centuries in the space of four short weeks. Possible? Not really, but you can imagine it better if you use this time to meditate on the promises of the long past to aid in looking forward to the magnificent promises of the future: the history-ending, climactic return of Jesus.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by Thy drawing nigh; disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
(First and fourth verses of Latin antiphons, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” twelfth century)
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