By David R. Brock of Redmond, OR, USA
For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. —3 Nephi 10:18
A young woman is talking with her family on the phone about how much she wishes they could be together at Christmas, how sorry she is that they will be apart. Her mother asks if she has received her gifts. She says, “Not yet.” Her mother asks her if she has looked outside.
She goes to the door and opens it to find Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters, warmly bundled against the cold and the snow, arms filled with gifts, and her mom holding a cell phone. Together as family. A surprise at Christmas. What else could she hope for?
It’s a little too good to be true, I know, but an advertisement like that gets us, doesn’t it? The prospect of being alone during the holidays, then totally unexpected, we open the door and all we have been longing for is there before our eyes—gifts, family, and fresh fallen snow.
The house is too clean, the girl too beautiful and thin, the weather too Christmas-perfect, the cell phone too clear, and the music a little too bright. But, it tugs at something—a sense of yearning for connection, for community, for love, for shalom.
It feels good and right and, as those cunning advertisers know, it moves us. It is—I’ll risk saying—a secular expression of our longing for the sacred, the utter joy of the longed-for, but unexpected, gift. The pony in the barn. The shiny bicycle on the porch. The diamond ring. The doll that cries and the joy of the parents who see their child’s eyes sparkle and shine with wonder.
The “too good to be true” is suddenly, surprisingly reality as the joy and hope of Christmas are captured in the opening of a door.
Advent Prayer Phrase
Anticipation deepens within.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Spend a few moments dwelling in God’s presence. Pay attention to where your heart feels drawn into prayer. What words, images, or themes in this story lead you to reflect on your own faith journey? What is God’s invitation to you this day?