Faith Stories: A Message for Advent and Christmas
In the first four days of Advent, I experienced three seemingly unrelated things. However, when I considered them together, I heard with clarity a message from God for this season.
What sparked this thought process was driving in my neighborhood and turning to glance at a house on a corner. I don’t know the family who owns that house, but since early November I have turned to look every time I drive by. You see, their house burned a few weeks ago so only a shell remains. I have watched as household items that could be salvaged were gathered up and taken away.
But on this fourth day of Advent, something else caught my eye. The family, who cannot live in their burned out home, was displaying a single Christmas decoration in front of the house. Leaning up against a column that still stood was a large painted board. The words painted on it said “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Wow, what an image! This family was witnessing through a sign leaning up against a destroyed home to remind us what really matters. Jesus. Nothing in that house, none of our presents this season – nothing – is more important than Jesus.
Two nights before this, I was preparing to take our 8 mm camcorder videos to be converted to DVD as a Christmas surprise for my family (ssshh!). A number of tapes were not labeled so I spent several hours watching parts of them to identify the dates they were made. It was a walk down memory lane watching our sons when they were babies, toddlers and adolescents. It brought smiles to my face and heart as I took a step back in time. It made me feel so blessed and really hit home how important families are to us.
Now to the third part of my thought process. Reflecting about the importance of family made me think of those who are missing family members this season. That led me to recall our first Advent lesson in the Lively Sunday School class. We are studying a new Adam Hamilton book called Not A Silent Night. It is a look at Advent through the eyes of Jesus’ mother, Mary. It starts from the end of her life and moves backward until we end at Jesus’ birth on the last Sunday in Advent. The first lesson last week was about the hope that Mary must have felt, even through her grief.
To quote Hamilton: “The appearance of Jesus to Mary after his death would have changed everything for her. She still would have carried the grief of his suffering with her. She would have carried the sense of separation and loss that any of us would feel after the death of someone close to us. But the Resurrection, we can be sure, changed how Mary experienced her grief: it gave her hope. Among the greatest gifts God has given us at Christmas is the hope that ‘death has been swallowed up in victory.’ (1 Corinthians 15:54)”
Jesus, family (including our church family) and hope….do we need anything more this Advent and Christmas?