Unexpected arrival (Advent 4)

(This is a reprise of my 2012 Advent series – enjoy!)


I’ve really enjoyed this Advent series following Mary’s journey. We’ve considered the parallels between Christ’s first coming and His second coming: the waiting, the homelessness, the groaning. But it has all been building up to this: the arrival.
What will it be like when Jesus returns?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to think much about Jesus’ coming again. Sometimes if I’m feeling morose I will consider my own death and meeting him in that way, but I don’t tend to think about Jesus’ return. Perhaps it’s because after 2000 years, we’ve grown complacent.

“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

Jesus told his followers to be ready for his return. But it’s difficult to exist in a state of continual expectation. We tend to think of waiting in expectation for Christ’s arrival as though we were waiting at an airport lounge, bored, watching the lights flicker on the arrivals board, hoping for some indication that He will come.

But it’s not like this. It’s more like the waiting of being pregnant. Mary would have gone normally about her life, with the occasional reminder of Jesus’ coming from the kicks in her womb. Then as she progressed into the third trimester, the extra weight and pain she was carrying would have been more of a constant, background reminder in the midst of her busyness.

Waiting for Jesus is something we do as we go about our daily lives. It is not an airport lounge. It’s a very long third trimester.

Mother and child

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)


When I was in the pushing stage of labour, I was so exhausted and out of it that if you had asked me, I would not have known what on earth I was doing. I had forgotten there was a baby involved. I was just thinking about how to draw the next breath, and that was taking all my energy.


Sometimes life is like that. There’s just no energy for anything other than surviving, and you forget what it’s all supposed to be about. You forget that Jesus is coming again.

But then he arrived, my boy, and they brought him to me. I hadn’t met him before. And yet I knew him. His face was at the same time new and familiar.


I have a confession:  I’m not one of those people who thinks all babies are beautiful. I think most are plain ugly, if I’m totally honest, and I find myself wincing at the red and wrinkly newborns, inventing suitable compliments for the sake of the parents. And while Jon and I are alright-looking, let’s just say I was more convinced of our progeny’s genetic tendency towards brains rather than beauty. In short, I was fully preparing myself to give birth to an ugly baby.


But then they handed him to me, and I was overwhelmed by how perfect, how gorgeous he looked.   I was genuinely surprised. My first words to him were, “But he’s so beautiful!” And at that moment of seeing how beautiful he was, despite the pain and exhaustion, I felt a deep contentment, as though I knew that everything would be alright.


I reckon that’s how it will be. He will come again, and we will see that face for the first time and it will be strangely familiar. And we will say, ‘But he’s so beautiful’ and we will know that now, at last, everything really will be alright.



I will be taking a blogging holiday over Christmas – back in January! Have a Joyful Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!


Over to you:

  • What helps you look forward to Jesus’ return?


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14 Responses to Unexpected arrival (Advent 4)

  1. Tricia 30th December, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Finally got around to reading this!

    Thank you Tanya for this series. We were reminded on Sunday that Advent is about waiting for the second coming. Most of the Messianic prophesies in the OT refer to the second coming, either exclusively or in addition to Christ’s first coming.
    We were reminded that we are, or should be, “Advent People” constantly anticipating the second coming and always prepared for it! We reflected on Simeon who’s whole life had been devoted to the promise that he would see the Messiah.

    Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:25-35 ESV)

    • Tanya 10th January, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Sounds like a really good sermon!
      I do love that story of Simeon, waiting for so long, his delight so evident. Thank you.

  2. Rebecka 26th December, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    When I was a little girl, I thought that when Jesus returned, he would come down slowly through the air and stand at the end of the street where I lived. I also imagined He would be enormous, like a very tall building, and because of His size, I would be frightened. Even though a lot of this seems silly now that I’m older, it’s interesting to note that when I was little, I expected Jesus to return at any moment. Now, I think I have grown complacent and I don’t spend much time at all thinking about His coming again.

    • Tanya 10th January, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

      I’m trying to recall what my mental image was of Jesus returning. I think I also thought he would be huge (because otherwise how else would the whole world see??) and I also thought it would be scary. It’s really interesting that when you were little you expected his return at any time. I think we definitely get complacent as we get older.

  3. Mark Allman 24th December, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Merry Christmas Tanya!!!

    • Tanya 10th January, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      I’m SO late on this, but Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!

      • Mark Allman 10th January, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

        It’s never too late Tanya! Thank you.

        • Tanya 16th January, 2014 at 10:10 am #

          Thank you, Mark!

  4. Cathy 24th December, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Thanks again, Tanya, for a thoughtful reflection on your waiting experience. (I, too, had a similar response to my children, especially the first one. ) I continue to be grateful for your voice as a “faraway friend” who is going through an extended period of waiting. I think preparing ourselves for Jesus also works to prepare us for other things coming at us in life. Recently, I had to wait for what I thought would be bad news, and when it didn’t come, some other “bad” news did (actually the answer to prayer, but something that is and will continue to be difficult and lots of hard work). I think the effort invested in the waiting has more effectively prepared me for what I now need to face. Hope you enjoy your Christmas!

    • Tanya 10th January, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

      I like the idea of being a faraway friend!

      Thinking of you as you deal with your difficult situation, whatever it is. Hoping you feel upheld by God.

      • Cathy 10th January, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

        Thanks for thinking of me. I have felt upheld by God–I love the way you put it. Have recently told many about you and your journey…

        • Tanya 16th January, 2014 at 10:26 am #

          I am so glad you felt upheld by God. (and thank you for telling people about me! that feels weird – I don’t often think about other people talking about me!, but nice-weird.)

  5. Janice 23rd December, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    ‘I was genuinely surprised. My first words to him were, “But he’s so beautiful!” ‘ That was my EXACT experience. I love this post. I love the idea of waiting like pregnancy because it relieves me of the pressure that I’m supposed to be waiting for Christ’s return with wide-eyed enthusiasm every day. Waiting during pregnancy definitely feels more like normal life. There’s the underlying hope and excitement but it’s blanketed by a great deal of discomfort and worry and the continual sensation of not feeling quite at home in your own body.

    Thanks for sharing this. So good for me to think about.

    Hope you have a fantastic Christmas season! See you in January!

    • Tanya 10th January, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

      This is why we are kindred spirits! Thanks, Janice. Xx

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