Advent refers to the anticipation of the coming of a significant person, thing, or event, and there is so much anticipation around Christmas. And anticipation gets mingled this time of year with words like busy, and stress, and phrases like, hustle and bustle. When was the last time you or I stopped, took a deep breath, turned off the radio, TV and our phones and asked ourselves honestly just what it is that we are anticipating this Christmas? Many of us anticipate sweet reunion with family and friends, the joy on a loved one’s face upon opening that perfect gift. For some it is the anticipation of arguments and the reopening of old wounds, loneliness, or maybe a few extra unwanted holiday pounds. Many of us recognize that we live in a world that is broken. Where my family and I live, we don’t even have to open the door to look for brokenness, we hear it through the walls of our house. Belligerent, careless, vile, and desperate are the voices that puncture our walls in the very late hours. Even from within the walls of our home can be heard, now and again, the brokenness of a careless word. Can the pillars of anticipation be such things as hope, joy, and peace?
Two thousand years ago, God’s people in the Near East and throughout lived with an anticipation of the coming of Messiah- the Rescuer- the one who would heal, who would set things right, who would deliver from the hand of oppressive rulers and establish a rule of peace and prosperity.
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight…” Stop, and let us imagine. Imagine a midnight light, so bright in the sky, that it could only be the terrifying and blinding, majestic light of the messengers of Almighty God. And that it is. Angels! Filling the night sky with glory as they hover above the earth in triumphant song, announcing the arrival of the long anticipated Messiah. He’s here! He’s there, in Bethlehem, in a stable, wrapped in cloths.
Tell me you wouldn’t sprint. Tell me you wouldn’t unlock some hidden strength and stamina dormant till this very moment when at last your greatest desire is right there, just over that hill. Tell me you wouldn’t squeal, just a little. Tell me you wouldn’t heelclick. Tell me you wouldn’t EXPLODE! It’s Christmas! He’s here! He’s here! He’s here!
Love has come. Peace has come.
Hope and Joy and life everlasting have come.
Run. Run. Run! With all your longings and deepest desires.
With all your fears and trepidation, and all your fragile hope.
Run! Don’t stop. Don’t slow down. Don’t look right or left.
All that you need, all that you desire is finally here.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, wherever you’ve been,
Run to Love Incarnate. Run to Jesus.
Happy Advent, and Merry Christmas!
I actually hadn’t planned on a two-part Christmas letter, but…
The day after writing Part One, I got a call while scooping gutters atop my customer’s roof- this happens all the time. I hit the button on my earbuds to answer the call and continued scooping. The voice on the other end belonged to the director of our adoption agency, Joy. We greeted each other and she advised me that she had just received “interesting news” from the in-country adoption agency in Ethiopia…
Two years ago today (December 12th, 2014) I got a call while on a ladder cleaning windows. It was Joy, calling to inform me of two children in Ethiopia, a brother and sister, who needed a family and would we be interested. They were 7 years and 3 weeks old. “Yes!” I told her. An hour later, about to drive away from my customer’s house, I received an email with their names and most precious of all, photos. I stared at their names and faces. They were beautiful. That was a long two years ago…
We started this adoption journey three years ago with great anticipation, even though we were warned about the nature of adoption’s slowdowns and obstacles. But when Joy told us this Fall that we were the longest waiting family our agency had ever worked with and that they weren’t seeing any signs that the region of Oromia would be signing any papers in the foreseeable future and we should consider moving on to children from a different region, we felt as if we were being asked to decide whether or not to pull the life support plug of not one, but two of our loved ones. We were not anticipating news like that. Thus began a season of grief and uncertainty, not knowing how or what to pray. As Christians we believe in a God who is sovereign in all things and who works in all things to bring his children to a closer, stronger, more sure and more satisfying dependency on him. So, without answers, clarity, or direction-but with hope, we grieved and prayed on…
Interesting news? I dropped my scoop in the bucket hanging from the gutter trough and sat back on the roof. “Interesting news” could mean anything and I didn’t feel like multi-tasking. Joy informed me that the letter we’d been waiting over a year for, that identifies our kids as officially “adoptable”, the letter that would propel us forward into the final stages of our adoption process had finally been written and signed, and were we ready to pick up where we left off… Blink. Blink. Gulp. “Yes. Yes, of course!”
Advent the anticipation of a significant person or event…. We don’t know if or what kind of obstacles may cross the final lengths of our adoption journey, but with great anticipation and joy we are pressing on. Will you join us on this journey? I can’t imagine the spiritual opposition against the coming of Christ one “Silent Night” long ago. And against such Gospel imaging works as adoption, there will be great opposition, we’ve seen it already. We need your prayers, your encouragement, your wisdom and support. We would welcome any chance to listen and talk with you, our friends and family. After all, our family has always needed the love and support of our family and friends. We would also like to ask you to consider giving an end of year donation to our adoption fund. Although it’s still months away, we have airfare costs estimating around $10,000, (2 trips to ET= 4 roundtrip & 2 one way tickets). Instructions on how to donate are included on a separate card.
When I get the chance to see these two beautiful kids in person, I probably won’t sprint. This meeting will be a delicate one. But in my heart, there will be sprinting, there will indeed be heel clicking and, yes, a joyous squeal.
I know this year’s letter didn’t include a full family update. Let’s get together; we’d love to see you!
Happy Advent, and Merry Christmas!