I’m so excited that Advent is here! I love decorating the Christmas tree and cut-out cookies with the missionaries. I love lighting the Advent wreath at supper time and having a short Bible reflection as a family. I love all the Christmas posadas (basically parties with a rich historical meaning that you can learn more about here) celebrated with almost every group you are connected to here in Mexico. I love carving out special quiet time with God as I read my Advent devotions. I love spending time in the Oaxaca downtown square, the zocalo, which is beautifully decorated with hundreds of poinsettias, lights and a life size manger scene.
This year is special for a few reasons. Pastor Julio asked me to help our church celebrate Advent. They have never done this before, and it has been an honor to prepare each service in Advent and include special moments for the children, the lighting of the Advent wreath with a reading and teach new songs that go with the four main themes of Advent: hope, peace, joy and love.
Another thing that has made Advent special this year is that our missionary colleagues from Mexico City, the Petersons, visited us on Thanksgiving weekend, and besides having a blast with them, they also shared a book called Jotham’s Journey, a storybook on Advent and Christmas, a series their boys have used for years and still enjoy. We started reading the story and it is quite intense. There is one scene where the main character Jotham, who is all alone and separated from his family, is too scared to pass through a canyon, so he cries out for God to help him. The chapter ends with a man helping him through the canyon. Then a reflection continues on how God also sends us help when we are afraid.
I talked with the boys about some of their fears – both real and imaginary. One of their fears that came up was when we were up in a mountain village with the Petersons and Jo Ellen Reaves and they wanted to go down the zipline, but they were too afraid to do it alone. Jonthan Peterson, who is 12 and is so good with the boys, quickly offered to go down with them. I told them how God helped them when they were afraid by sending Jonathan to go down with them. They both looked at me in amazement and I also think with true belief, as they said, God, would do that? He sent Jonathan to help us?
The other night I started an Advent Retreat that I am so excited about on www.sacredspace.ie The introduction says, “The Advent of Jesus occurs in history, mystery and majesty. This means that we have three Advents to consider.
The First Advent is the historical coming of Jesus which occurred a ‘long time ago, in Bethlehem’ as the carol puts it. That first Advent throws light on today.
The Second Advent is occurring as you read or hear these words. This is what we mean by Jesus coming ‘in mystery’, because his presence is not obvious except to the eyes of faith. Jesus comes in disguise in people and situations, in suffering and tragedy, in beauty and in joy, in the sacraments and in prayer. This coming occurs all the time”.
Right after I read this I thought of my conversation with the boys; Jesus coming in mystery to my boys through the love of another boy.
“Then there is the Third Advent, the future coming of Jesus in majesty. In the Creeds we say: ‘He will come again’. Just as the past can throw light on the present, the future can illuminate the present, if we explore it”.
My prayer this Advent is that we all may have the eyes to see how Jesus is coming to us in history, mystery and majesty. May you have a blessed Advent season.