looking through me

Tag: Advent

Christmas . . .

I unwrap past Christmases with each ornament and hang them on the tree. The bell from Uncle Bob. The angel Mom gave me one of the Decembers I was too sick to decorate with the family. The ornaments Dad brought back from business trips. The ones I made in preschool. The heavy 125-year-old orbs passed down from Great-Grandma. The ornaments chronicle my life almost as well as the Christmas album does.

One year Mom turned a fat, ordinary, three-ring binder into a padded, fabric-ed, lacy album. Decades later I still love flipping through the forty-plus years of Christmas pictures. Children have been born and had children themselves. Faces have disappeared. Traditions have evolved.

Tonight I sit in the dark as Christmas music fills the air and the lights of the tree play off the ornaments.

The memories are thick. Dozens of loved ones crowd against me on the loveseat. I hear the laughter and feel the hugs. I smell the lingering scents of dinner and see the platter of cookies and candies Mom has made. I hear my brother’s voice reading the gospel account. I catch a glimpse of the Advent calendar with all the flaps of the story opened. I feel my own conflicted longing for the quiet that will descend once the crowd leaves and the longing to never be parted from these ones I love.

Tears threaten to spill from my blurring eyes. Because this year some of those faces will only be present in the album.

The tree lights smudge. As I blink the tears away I see the crèche on the hearth. In the dim light I catch the outline of a kneeling Mary cradling the infant Jesus.

And in that yet to grow and die and rise again representation of my Savior hope overcomes my pangs of grief. The sorrows are real. As are the joys. And someday this dying world will be made new. The tears will be wiped away.

Jesus is coming . . . again.


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Expectations . . . such a weighted word. My shoulders sag beneath it.

Reality tends to hit somewhere short of my expectations. And I feel the pressure of the missed targets.

During this holiday season I hear murmurings from all corners that echo my sentiment. Yet this is the one time of year my expectations are spot on. Because this isn’t about the gifts or the food or the gatherings or the events. I have assumptions for all those, but—BUT—those expectations and their outcomes are not what drive me now.

This is Advent. This is life in the dramatic tension of waiting. It’s a celebration of kingdom come and yet to come, new life given and yet to be given. It’s intentional focus on the year-round reality of living in an atrophying world awaiting Hope.

And. Hope. is. coming.

“…‘Come, Lord Jesus’ is not a cry of desperation but an assured shout of cosmic hope.”[1]

Hope indeed.

My expectations will fade away. I won’t have the life I dreamt of as a child. The degrees will fail to translate into an identity. People will fail me. I will fail me. Check, check, check.

But Jesus is coming. Not because I want Him to. Not because I hope He will. He’s coming because He said He would. He promised.

Advent gives me the space to pause and soak in that reality. In bleak days and brilliant days, when it’s loud and chaotic and the to-do list outnumbers the waking hours and life’s demands clamor for immediate attention—in days such as these—my soul whispers “Come, Lord Jesus” with every confidence that He is coming.

It’s the expectation that will not disappoint. Emmanuel—God with us—was and is and is still to come.


[1] Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Cincinnati: 2008), 3.

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