My kids have an Advent calendar that counts down the days to Christmas. Each day they uncover and position magnetic figures and symbols from the Nativity on to a board with the image of a stable.
Over the past few years we've adopted the practice of ceremoniously uncovering the Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve and triumphantly placing him at the center of the scene.
And every year in that moment we get the chance to re-emphasize to our kids that Light is shining in the darkness, and that, in spite of the hard things they hear and see in the world around them, the darkness doesn't get to win.
I know my boys want to believe me when I tell them about the Light. They aren't oblivious to the news of the world, and to sadness and death. But they hold out hope for a better world with imagination and love.
Children can carry hope in their hearts much more fiercely than the rest of us. And they pay attention to the things that give them hope, and hold on to them tightly.
Walter Brueggeman wrote that "Advent is a poem that imagines." I love that so much. There's a childlike beauty to it. I fear that most of us have lost the ability to imagine a better world during this season of expectation. We've lost the ability to imagine a world without darkness.
We no longer imagine the kingdom of God like a child.
In The Remarkable Ordinary, Frederick Buechener wrote about this very thing:
"And it seems to me that the world is a manger, the whole bloody mess of it, where God is being born again and again and again and again and again. You've got your mind on so many other things. You're so busy with this and that, you don't see it. You don't notice it."May you spend these last few days of Advent reconnecting with childish hope and faith--the kind of faith and hope that Jesus desired from those who follow him.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.