Isaiah 25: 8-10 The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces;  the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.  On that day it will be said:  “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!  For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.”

I was just trying to buy a soup pot.

The ash pile where our house had burned down was still smoldering.  But I needed a soup pot.

My sister kindly reminded me that I didn’t have a house, let alone a stove.

As I stood at the register wearing her borrrowed clothes, my eye still black from where I jumped out of the window to escape the flames, my face got red hot.  

No, I didn’t have a stove.  Or any clothes or a bed or anything that would make this awful day feel like Christmas.

What I had were unrelenting nightmares and kids who couldn’t sleep and a husband whose cough was a constant reminder of the miracle that any of us were still alive.  I had nothing but heavy, unbearable grief.

So I needed to do something to stop feeling it and thinking about and I just wanted to do something normal, like make soup.  Even if it was in a unfamiliar rental kitchen.  So, she was patient and picked out the perfect soup pot and I cried in the car all the way home.

A few days later, I walked into church for the New Year’s Eve service and my pastor read this from Romans 8.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We took communion together as a family and that meal felt like the only thing in my life that I could be sure of—Christ’s body and blood for me, the One who saves us and feeds us and wipes away all our tears.  The meal that can never be taken away—the food that sustains us when every last thing is gone.

Advent’s message is not just that Christ came in a manger but that He comes to us now in His word and in Holy Communion.  He is Emmanuel, God with us, no matter what burns down around us.

Bonhoeffer says in God in a Manger, “Not everyone can wait. The only ones who can wait are people who carry restlessness around with them…Thus Advent can be celebrated only by those whose souls give them no peace, who know that they are poor and incomplete, and who sense something of the greatness that is to come, before which they can only bow in humble timidity, waiting until he inclines himself toward us—the Holy One himself, God in the child in the manger. God is coming; The Lord Jesus is coming; Christmas is coming.”

 

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