December 28th, 2020 by Sara Buffington
This year my son had a Lego Star Wars Advent calendar. Yes, such a thing exists. Each day he opened a little cardboard flap to take out the pieces of a tiny tie fighter or Darth Vader in a Christmas sweater. He loved it: every day a new discovery, something to look forward to.
I need that, too.
This year Advent was so important to me, because with all the heartbreak of 2020, I desperately needed something to look forward to. I need the anticipation of Christmas.
I enacted my equivalent of a Lego Advent calendar. I put up more Christmas lights. I made a Christmas song playlist. I listened to special Advent Scriptures. I watched a deluge of Christmas movies with ridiculous but predictable plots.
And then Christmas came with a rush of presents and food and carols and church services (in person or online), and then...quiet. Christmas is unwrapped--and I have the crumpled wrapping paper to prove it.
Is there anything left to anticipate?
There is a poem by Christina Rossetti that has been turned into a Christmas carol. You probably have never heard it--it’s not one of the “big ones,” but it is simple and beautiful nonetheless. Here is a stanza:
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.
The Love that came down--that was Jesus. And that moment was the beginning of a transformation, one that continues to this day.
That Love--the love of Jesus--is firmly planted and working and growing in the hearts of all who believe in him. Here is another stanza:
Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
What is the sign of the love of Jesus in us? It is that love is our token--it’s our signature, our hallmark--it’s what we are known by.
So if I am willing to fully unwrap Christmas, it means I am going to need his Love to be my token. It means I need him desperately to help me because I can be irritable, selfish, petty...well, I can be a lot of things.
But with his help, my signature can be his love. And, what’s more, I can see His love around me.
Imagine if we looked at each day as an Advent calendar of his grace and love. A box for each day of our lives going forward.
What if we started this day (and each day after) asking God, “Show me a sign of your love today"? Then we paid attention as we went about our day. His answer could be that he shows his love for us in some way or that he uses us as a token of his love for someone else.
Each day we would get to unwrap the Love of Christmas. No clean-up required.