We turned left onto a gravel driveway that wound around the front-side of an old red barn, following it’s curves until we pulled into a muddy parking lot filled with other cars bringing families out for the same happy December errand. After picking up a rusty, well-worn hand saw, we headed up the hill to find our very first, perfect-for-us tree. The winter sun was dropping lower, covering row after row of trees in that soft orangey light that shows up on perfect nights like that. He cut down the tree. I took about a thousand pictures. He walked it down the hill, and I trailed close behind, soaking up every second of getting to be married to him. And focusing on not sliding down the hill head first in the mud 🙂
This is a December full of firsts for us: our first married Christmas; our first year with that big beautiful tree, filling up the piano room; our first time getting to wake up together Christmas morning; and my favorite, our first time getting to celebrate together the fuller, deeper, most important meaning of this Emmanuel month.
Christmas. It changes everything. It marks the moment in time when God Almighty, Lord over every single star and molecule and breath, gave it all up and wrapped Himself in soft, helpless, powerless, dependent-baby flesh. God with us. He understood that centuries-old sacrifices, passed on from generation to generation, weren’t enough to save a sin-saturated world. He knew that the ultimate sacrifice was required, one in which He the Creator would die a love-filled death to save His creation. And it all started in a manger. Unimaginable glory born into the humblest of times and places.
This Prince of Peace has been changing lives around the globe ever since, and I’m no exception. I’ve been ransomed, rescued, set free, poured over by sweet grace, healed, and delivered. By a baby. A baby born to bring the brightest Light into the darkest world. To shine hope into every black dungeon that steals and destroys. A baby-turned-man that left us the hope of salvation but also the longing for reunion.
Now? Advent is heavier. Weightier. It stirs up hope and joy and unabashed thankfulness. It also wakes up a deep-down groaning for glory. “It’s the time when we prepare to celebrate His birth and we also acknowledge that we are waiting here still for every tear to be wiped away. I think of the waiting for the Christ child, yes, and I think of the still-waiting for all things to be made right, for our longing for Shalom. Would we be so filled with joy at His arrival if we weren’t so filled with longing already? If Christmas is for the joy, then Advent is for the longing.” (Sarah Bessey, emphasis added)
Each night before bed, I snuggle up close to Luke, tucked up under his left arm, and listen as he reads out about Advent, about this longing to be set right and the wonders of all that Glory come down to tiny Earth. And we wait.