A Message for You — December 2, 2010

The Meaning of Christ’s Advent

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church 

Henry Carter, a pastor and an administrator of a home for emotionally disturbed children, tells of an encounter he had one Christmas Eve that gave him a new insight on what Christ’s coming is all about.

Henry was busy with last-minute preparations for the worship service, when one of the floor mothers came to say that Tommy had crawled under his bed and refused to come out. He arrived in the boy’s room with not a hair or a toe showing beneath it. So he talked to Tommy about the brightly lighted tree, the packages underneath it and the other good things that were waiting for Tommy out from under the bed.

There was no answer.

Still fretting about the time this was costing, Henry dropped to his hands and knees and lifted the spread. Two enormous blue eyes looked out at him. He could easily have pulled Tommy out, but it wasn’t pulling that Tommy needed—it was trust. So, crouched on all fours, Henry launched into the menu of the special Christmas Eve supper to be offered after the service. He told of the stocking with Tommy’s name on it, provided by the Ladies Aid.

Silence. There was no indication Tommy heard or that he even cared about Christmas.

At last, because he could think of no other way to make contact, Henry got down on his stomach and wriggled in beside Tommy, snagging his sport coat on the bedsprings on the way. He lay there with his cheek pressed against the floor for a long time. He talked about the big wreath above the altar and the candles in the window. He talked about the carols all the kids were going to sing. Then, finally running out of things to say, he simply waited there beside Tommy.

After a bit, a small child’s chilled hand slipped into his. Henry said, “You know, Tommy, it is kind of close quarters under here. Let’s you and me go out where we can stand up.” As they slid out from under the bed, it was then, Henry said, that he had been given a glimpse of the wonder, the glory, and mystery of God’s Son coming to us.

God had called to us just as Henry had called to Tommy—from above. God had told of wonders and gifts that He would be mankind’s to enjoy, just as Henry had told Tommy of all the goodies that would be his on Christmas day. God pleaded with mankind to know that He loves us all just as Henry tried to convince Tommy.

And when we wouldn’t listen, God had drawn closer. Through the prophets and lawgivers, God spoke to us in them. But it was not until that first Christmas, until God stooped down to earth itself, until God in His Son entered into our flesh, into the darkness of the womb where our darkness in sin begins. It wasn’t until He dwelt with us in our flesh, our loneliness and our alienation, until He took our place of guilt and death, that we, like Tommy, dared to believe in Him and open the hand of faith to receive God’s grip of sacrificial love that shall lead us on to the resurrection.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14.

I pray that during this Advent season, our Lord may give you the faith to see and receive His hand of love in the gift of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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