Matthew 1:23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.”
As a child, I knew Advent had something to do with the coming of Jesus Christ. But I told my parents, “Jesus was already born a long time ago.” My Southern Baptist parents responded, “The season of Advent is a time of anticipation, to celebrate Jesus’ arrival. Jesus is always ready to come into our hearts.” However, it still bothered me to see the Baby Jesus in the manger at church, as if he had just been born.
For Dad, Advent was an ongoing event. Dad believed that we could anticipate Jesus at every turn, every moment. It was evidenced by the fact that people often came to Dad for advice or help; he lived the “God is with us” in his heart.
One day, my Dad was at the back of the house, digging a post hole to build a fence. When he looked up from his work, he saw a young black boy approaching. The minute Dad noticed the boy, Freddy, my dad put down his tools and reached for his wallet. Freddy said, “Mr. George, it’s soon going to turn cold and I need some shoes. Could you let me borrow twenty dollars?” By that time, Dad had already taken a twenty dollar bill from his wallet and handed it to him. With a kind voice, Dad said, “That’s alright, Freddy, you don’t have to reimburse me. It surely will turn cold soon and you do need shoes.” It was as if Dad already knew what Freddy needed, without his having to ask. I knew that it must have happened previously, perhaps each winter. Freddy went to the one person he knew who would help him.
During the final year of Dad’s life, many nights he would get up at 2:00 a.m. and get dressed. When asked where he was going, he said, “I’m going to help Mr. Sheets build a fence,” even though Mr. Sheets had died years ago. Or, “I’m going to help Chester plant his strawberries.” He would have to open the front door and see the darkness to believe it was still night. In Dad’s night-time dreams, he was only doing what he had done all his life—helping his neighbors and friends.
Jesus was such a part of his thinking and doing that indeed, he anticipated the coming of Jesus at every moment, even in his night-time dreams—all year long. What he could no longer physically do, God allowed him to accomplish in his dreams—building fences and planting strawberries—witnessing the coming of Christ in an individual’s heart, an everyday event.
At Advent, we receive once again the incredible gift from God—Jesus Christ. Take the opportunity to anticipate and re-experience God’s great gift of love and forgiveness—the God with us!