Advent is a season of expectation. But what are we looking towards? Christmas turkeys and dinner parties? Presents by the dozen?

Around this time, many years ago, Mary was also filled with anticipation (Luke 1). She would have been heavily pregnant and eager to meet this baby boy whom the angel Gabriel had told her about. I wonder what was in Mary’s mind as she counted down the days. Perhaps she thought about what Jesus would be like. Would the baby look like her? Or God? (What does God look like?)

This Advent, I found my heart downcast instead of expectant. This year has not been an easy one to get through. Friends returned to our Heavenly Father. I miss them. The number of people affected by conflicts continues to rise. We still don’t know the truth behind 1MDB, Malaysia’s beleaguered investment fund.

And so I fought the year-end festive air that shopping malls in Singapore attempted to create. Why songs about a “winter wonderland” when the sun is shining so brightly? Do we need to have an evergreen that will be dead in a couple of weeks taking up space in our living rooms? Last I checked, the trees outside are as green as ever. Why is Christmas such a big deal compared to, say, Easter?

Today, as I was listening to a Christian radio station online, the song / spoken word, “God With Us” (Folk Angel feat. Isaac Wimberly), came on. I was reminded that, actually, Christmas was and is a big deal, and why. Without Christmas, there would be no Good Friday, no Easter. People waited years and years for the Messiah to come… . And then He showed up as a baby. Isn’t it a crazy idea that the Promised King would enter the world as a bawling kid who couldn’t even sit up, much less walk and talk? Yet this child, “100% human, 100% God … was here to dwell among us”.

Jesus: Through Him and for Him, all things were created
And in Him all things are sustained;
God had made Himself known for the glory of His name …
(“God With Us”)

This Christmas, let us, like Mary, ask ourselves: Who is this Jesus, begotten Son of God? As we look to Him, may we find assurance that although it is a messy world, He sustains all things. Take heart — the centre will hold. Have hope — all things will be made beautiful in His time.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
(“O Holy Night”)