Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. The first candle lit each Advent season is the candle of hope. Our pastor introduced Advent teaching that in order to hope, we have to connect with our hopelessness. He spoke of God’s presence even in the times when He seems silent. I thought about that, not so much in terms of silence, but what about the times when tragedy strikes and he allows it? Is He silent then?
After church, while the turkey cooked, we bundled up and tromped through the pasture to our little tree farm. It was cold, and the kids couldn’t settle on just the right tree. It seemed that every few minutes, we heard Wogauyu’s voice call out, “I found it! I found the perfect tree!”
Once they agreed on one, Russ cut it down and the guys carried it up the hill to the front porch of the house. We paused in our preparations to feast on turkey and other wonderful foods, then the project of simultaneously hauling the tree in the house, and hauling all of the Christmas boxes down the stairs commenced.
I don’t remember this, but last year, after the accident, I asked the kids to pack everything from Christmas away before I got home from the hospital. The older kids were left with the task, which is no small project, and usually takes the better part of a day. From what I hear, Noah and Katie shouldered most of the load, and they did an amazing job.
Usually I don’t pack my Advent books in the Christmas boxes because I want to be sure to have them in time for the first Sunday. This year, more than anything, I wanted to find our copy of Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas and our Jesse Tree ornaments. Late in the day, we came to the right box, and now they are on the sideboard waiting for dinner tonight. The second day of Advent, and we are already one day behind; in some ways, that feels just right.
In lieu of our regular Advent reading, I read about the meaning of each Advent candle, the candles of hope, preparation, joy, love, and the Christ candle. We sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel as Wogauyu lit the first candle of the season, the candle of hope.
Which brings me back to the point of this post and the purpose of the candle. Advent reminds us that God is present even in the times when we can’t hear him, even in the silence. He alone brings hope to our hopelessness. I need to know that deep in my heart.
Our family is walking through Advent with apprehension. The reminders of Kalkidan, the accident, and our profound loss are ever present. We are hurting and I feel afraid. How bad is it going to feel? How overwhelmed will I be? How do we even celebrate?
Emmanuel, God with us, the source of all hope.