By Daniel Schartner
It was their last night together and they had Secret Santa gifts to give out. Though a few had already left for Thanksgiving, the festivities began with tender affirmations and warm smiles that even masks could not entirely contain. Early Christmas gifts were exchanged joyously and the many gaps between them were filled with laughter. An unusual Monday night but altogether special. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” they sang.
In a year marked by waiting, there is still more to be had. The end of this pandemic feels much overdue and the holidays seem to have amplified our longings. Many have foregone and will forego family traditions, postponing gatherings until a safer time. Still, the advent season has arrived. Though Christmas is a celebration of what has already come to pass it is also a reminder that there is much to look forward to.
Throughout the past semester, we’ve had the privilege to engage the topics of “Life & Leadership” with pastors David Stephenson and Rob Yancey. Something that David brought up in our most recent time together was the meaning of advent — an expectant arrival. Israel waited a long time for the Messiah to come and now Christians are in a similar situation. We must ask: who is it that we await and for what purpose does he come?
When Jesus arrived under a starry night sky, the first people that came to greet him were outcasts. Even as an infant, Jesus faced the heartache and lost hopes of people who felt forgotten. He said later in his ministry, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). The man with the greatest power and influence over the world said he chose to serve. He could have become a political superstar and dominated Israel’s oppressors, but he chose to spend his time healing the broken and welcoming the destitute. For them he would die. Out of his service came redemption and out of his death came resurrection. He promised that a time will come when he returns to make all things new. Like the first advent, the second coming teaches a liturgy of sorrow turned into joy.
Their faces quarantined into separate boxes on the screen, the fellows gathered again. Spread out across the country, they have been charged to serve in both new and familiar places. Their separation was chosen out of love but is meant to be temporary. The new year will bring an expectant reunion. Until then, hidden blessings will be prayerfully sought and the arrival of their king eagerly awaited.
Pictures from the Week
Life & Leadership on Zoom
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