Advent

Advent

There are two times a year when mankind as a collective group acknowledges the thinness between our world and another. When we admit there might be more than the eye can behold and the fingers can touch. When we all bask and bathe in Wonder. Those two times are Halloween and Christmas. And of these two, the first cannot hold a candle to the latter.

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Darkness drapes heavy and expectant over the house. It presses down like anticipation, its tendrils thick and total. But then —

A match strikes. In the pendulous night, a single candle springs alight.

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She sits alone on the frigid sidewalk, the wind biting into her face and hands as it whips through her ragged clothes. She is cold. So cold. Christmas lights burn in the distance, and she finds herself staring at them, mesmerized, wishing they burned a little warmer.

The tip-tapping of shoes echoes down the street. She doesn’t bother to look up.

“Excuse me,” a soft voice falls. “Would you mind if we gave you this blanket? And some soup?”

She looks up, mouth agape. And in that moment, she feels the warmth of something greater than herself.

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Another candle lights. And another. And another.

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He sits alone in a hospital room, clinical white and sterile effects. He is trapped in this place. His prison features large windows that look down on a street he can’t set foot on while an IV drip chains him to the wall. He knows he won’t be home for Christmas. And in this moment the loneliness overwhelms him.

A knocking comes at his door. He looks up. “Yes?”

A man dressed in winter clothes pokes his head in the room. “Excuse me, sir. May we come in for a minute?”

“What for?” he says. “Oh, I suppose so.”

The man smiles, and then he and three other people shuffle into the room. They are carrying hymnals. “We thought,” he said, “since you couldn’t go out to Christmas, Christmas should come to you.” And then they begin to sing.

The man’s jaw drops open. He determines to hold the tears at bay, but he finds he cannot contain them.

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Another candle lights. And another. And another. And another.

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The children sit alone in the living room. Mommy and daddy won’t be home this Christmas. They know that now. They had so hoped, but now there is none remaining. Did mommy and daddy abandon them? Do they not love them any more?

There is a rapping outside. The doorbell rings.

Tentatively the oldest child works her way down to the front door and peers through the peephole. Frowning, she opens the door.

“Merry Christmas!” cries her family members and neighbors and friends. They burst into the house, bundling in gifts and food and beauty.

The children cannot contain their shock. But the greatest gift of all is when their aunt pulls out a tablet, and on it is an image of their mommy and daddy. “Hello, my sweeties,” the mother says softly.

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Another candle lights. And another. And another.

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He sits alone on the hard ground, surrounded by tormentors. With inhuman force they thrust him down onto the cold, unyielding earth, pushing him onto the splintered wood. Taking his hands and feet, they drive thick iron nails into his soft flesh, shattering the bone underneath. He cries out in pain as his blood runs with his tears.

They pull the cross into the air, sending shrieks through his nerves as the base crashes down into its hole. There were rumors once that he was the messiah. The hero. That he was even born of a virgin. That he was, in some mysterious way, God walking among his people. But now he is murdered with common criminals.

“My Father, my Father,” he moans. “Why have you forsaken me?”

But in that moment his gaze is transported to the future: to far-off times and different lands, where His sacrifice, His message of love, His gift of grace and mercy, is manifested around the world. Whether in little ways or in big, He sees people taking up His name to partake in wanton, random acts of kindness. And, through all of the pain, through all of the hatred and horror, it makes Him smile.

“It is finished,” He says. And the world gasps.

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The final candle is lit.

Advent has ended. Christmas has arrived.

The light of the world walks among us, just as He did over 2,000 years ago.

The darkness is expelled. All we have to do is see it.

God bless you. Merry Christmas, my friend.

 

(You can read Part One of Advent here and Part Two here. Share this with someone if it meant something to you. Thank you for reading.)