Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why Advent Matters

I was in touch with an old friend this week & discovered she is dealing with a new, scary medical diagnosis. She's my age and a Mama of three. A reminder of my mortality.

There was conversation with a Mama in the trenches with me about the Ferguson related protests, their implications for America and, specifically, my thoughts hovered on the impact on her son because of the color of his skin. A reminder that fear and injustice are deeply felt in this world.

I enjoyed dinner with friends who have been fostering a precious boy for 6 months--they brought him home from the hospital and now they are dealing with a looming court decision likely returning him to his biological parents. It is a win for his birth family and yet they feel such loss. A reminder of the heartbreak in this world even when we are seeking to be obedient to God's call on our lives...

A headline prompted the question from my children: "What is rape, Mom?" My answer led to a more difficult discussion: "WHY would someone do something like that? I don't understand." I gulped at the loss of innocence and fumbled through an age appropriate conversation about evil. 

Meanwhile, our nation celebrated gratitude by being gluttons, then got into our cars (or on our laptops) and greedily rushed out to battle others for the right to consume more in celebration of Christmas. 

This world started to feel pretty dark. I was grateful for the return of the twinkling lights of the Christmas season.

So, we got our Christmas trees and brought down boxes of decor. We put on Santa hats, giggled and attempted to push away so much of the hurt and darkness of the world.

It is so much fun, but it is not enough.

Tonight over my hot tea I am struck with this truth: We can wrap this world up in tinsel and bows, add a jolly soundtrack and urge each other to "be merry" but it does not change the brokenness and difficulty of the present world.

Blocking out the reality off life for a month is like going and getting blitzed at a bar after a bad day. The next morning you wake up...the issues are still there and you have a nasty headache. 

I don't want a short -term solution. I want long term hope.

This cry of our hearts is advent.

We wait and want for more. 
We hope for healing. 
We long for restoration of all the brokenness. 
We look forward to the fulfillment of God's promise of peace.

This feeling of want can't be filled with a brimming shopping cart on Black Friday.
Santa can't bring healing in his napsack. I watch it year after year at the local children's home as we try to compensate for all the hurt these kids have endured with 'stuff.' It is a wonderful distraction but not a cure.

Yesterday afternoon as I 'made room' for the two trees in our house and prepared places to display my favorite decorations I thanked God for the Advent season where we prepare not just our homes, but our hearts.

This morning in Sunday School I read from Ann Voskamp's amazing new book to the 5th & 6th grade girls in my class. After church I had the kiddos start coloring the printable ornaments for our own nightly reading we plan to start tomorrow...because before we can fully appreciate the gift of His birth, it is good to be reminded of our need for it.

Like children who fill out their Christmas wish pages and lingering over the catalogs (or Amazon reviews)...I want to long for the gift of Jesus.

I want to read the specs, hear the stories of how others have experienced Him, clear out space for His arrival. I want to wait in wonder. I want to revel in receiving.

Because my heart in this season needs the gifts of His peace, presence, healing, salvation and love more than anything else. 

Come, Lord Jesus.


Betsy Maddox said...

Wow. I love this so much. It reminded me of the words from I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth, I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep
The wrong will fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men.

So thankful that Jesus is Emmanuel...God with us. Our world sure does need Him!

lou said...

Thank you so much for the words, really beautiful and heartfelt and reminds me so much to look forward to Christmas in a meaningful way! - louisa

Denise Ross said...

So true. That's what my heart needs. I pray daily that I'm a joy spreader since we live in such a hurting world. Our world needs God so much but so few realise this. I'm glad that I have God, and his peace, forgiveness and salvation and through my life others will be drawn to God too.