“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…” – Isaiah 9:6
Every year at my mother’s house, as each week in December past nearing towards Christmas Eve, we would gather around the Advent wreath and sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” We would then read parts of the Christmas story from the Gospels and my brother and I would fight over who got to extinguish the candles first before singing a final hymn and then heading to bed. As I think back on those ten minutes or so we spent together every night, we were no longer just a family gathered around a Story – we were being gathered into the Story. We were being held by the Story – the Word – born unto us as God made Flesh in order to bear our stories.
My time in Santiago has been a time of seeing God with skin on in the midst of the yearning within the stories of our lives. I visit with women who have been raped. I sit with men who have lost sons in war. I bear witness to indigenous leaders’ frustrations as they strive to preserve their history and place in society. I am approached in the streets by young boys who need someone to pray with them as they do not know where the finances to pay for their schooling will come from in the following month. I am confided in by high school girls who have dreams to serve their community but fear they will never make a difference. I am taken by the hand by children who lead me through mass graves of victims from Hurricane Stan. I am beckoned to visit the homes of women and men who have temporarily lost sight of resurrection and they ask me if that makes them bad Christians.
I climb a 9,900 ft. tall volcano with young men who dream of making a difference in their community. I am blessed by friends bringing me hot arroz con leche when I am sick. I smile alongside young women who serve their elders as they teach me to perfect my tamale making skills. I am overwhelmed by the boisterous and defiant laughter that comes in the midst of struggle and pain. I am overjoyed at witnessing new and vibrant colors of a life lived in beloved community and in awe of God coming near – every single day. I learn to listen with ears and heart wide open while entrusting all of our stories to the One who made us.
This Advent, I am learning anew what it is to yearn and breathe and sing and laugh and cry to the One who was born unto us – to the One who has born us into a new Story.
A story of a virgin womb conceiving the Christ.
A story of the Christ who dirtied his feet and hands and tears alongside us who yearn.
A story of the Jesus who bore all of our stories and yearnings in His flesh, in His life, in His death, in His rising.
A story that resurrects us like phoenixes arising from ashes, like breath entering into a Lazarus-corpse.
A story that teaches us to dance to the figure-eight rhythm of God taking us by the hand, constantly leading us from death into life.
It is this Story that captivates me and propels me forward.
I want to personally thank you all for your prayers, support, friendship, and encouragement during my first four months with the Graduate Preaching Fellowship as I follow the Story of God at work in our world. I look forward to the remaining months where I will be surprised all the more by the Spirit-story at work within and around us.
A Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to you All,
2013-2014 GPF Recipient
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