Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving and Advent

Thanksgiving is now officially over - it has passed, once again, with relatively little pomp and circumstance on my side of the world! We actually celebrated it the weekend before it happened, TWICE. (Ahh, benefits of living with other expatriates in a country that knows not the deliciousness of American Thanksgiving - those few of us who know of it get to celebrate it with several different groups of friends!) So, we've had our fair share of turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and, yes, the obligatory pumpkin pie, among many other desserts! 

So, now that we have all recovered from our food comas, where do we go from here? We have given thanks around our tables with our families and/or friends, amid a gigantic pile of food and plenty. We look forward to Advent (which starts today, by the way!) and anticipating the celebration of the birth of our Savior. What does this really mean? What do we do with it?

I had a unique opportunity a week ago to fill in for a coworker who was sick. My coworker was supposed to help plan chapel for the week, but being sick at home sort of limits one's ability to do such things; I'd had some ideas floating around in my head for a few days that I really wanted to share with the students, and was amazed and excited that God switched the timing around so that I could lead chapel one final time before the baby is born.

For several days before that chapel, I'd had a song stuck in my head: How He Loves Us . Whenever I listen to this song, I think of my students, most of whom have no idea how the love of God could change their lives. There are so many things I wish I could say to convince them, to show them, to make them experience it...but obviously, that is not the way it works. But this song hits my heart with the simplicity of its truth.

I had also been thinking a lot about the incarnation - how is it that the God of the universe became a human. Seriously. Life in and of itself is a miracle, and I experience daily the joy and wonder of a new life being constructed inside of me. This life is so helpless, but so unique. I think a lot about what it will be like after the baby is born, and everything I will have to do to sustain this little life and help him/her grow. And then I think about my Creator, and how he is all-knowing and all-powerful, and how he gave all of that up so that he could become a human baby, so that he could live life with us and among us, and bridge the gap between a completely imperfect group of people and a completely perfect God.


That's what I felt the Spirit calling me to talk about in chapel a couple of weeks ago, so that's what I did. And you know what? It was incredible. Several of the students never took their eyes off of me in the entire 15-20 minutes I was talking (a small miracle, I assure you). I talked to a couple of teachers later that day and the following week who told me about questions that various students had been asking them. Is there evidence for God? How can we know that God is there? (etc.) God is working in the hearts of my students, and while I have no idea if what I said in chapel had any direct effect on any of them, I know that the Spirit used me in some way that day. I know that the Spirit is using conversations between my coworkers and our students, in high school and in the lower grades at our school, to nudge our students to an understanding and acceptance of Himself.

I have felt weak this year, but especially in the last few weeks. My energy levels are waning and I don't have the ability to remember everything that I'm supposed to remember in order to efficiently do my job. But for some reason, God chooses to use our weaknesses as strengths, and I think that has really happened a lot in my life lately. It was the times where I felt the most tired when a conversation or something else would come up that required just a little more energy from me, but it was so worthwhile. I'm so thankful for each of those moments.

As we look ahead to advent, let us remember that we are called to bring this good news to those around us. We are not perfect. We are weak. But God came to us and became one of us so that we have a way to him. Hallelujah!

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