I thought I’d stick this on here… A few thoughts on Advent, written while I was back in the US this past month, and used in one of my update letters… enjoy…
Well, it’s cold out. I think part of the problem is that my body is preparing for Brazilian summers – hot, humid, and sweaty. But because I am still waiting on my visa to be processed, I find myself sitting in a northern Illinois fall. And even though it’s not what I’ve been hoping for (that would be my visa in hand), it is beautiful.
Hopefully by the time you receive this, I will have my visa and will have returned to Rio and our community there (I did, and I have). Today marks four weeks that I’ve been back in the US. And while I’m grateful for the chance to recoup, decompress, connect with family and friends, and help work on the family homestead, my heart has been torn. My visa application is being “processed”, as it has for the past three weeks, but I’m ready to be back in Brazil. Sometimes it is hard to just wait. Wait on God’s timing. Wait on the Lord.
I think of the people of Israel at the time of Christ. They too were waiting – for freedom from the Romans, for restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, for the coming of the long-awaited Anointed One. They waited a long time. Yet even when he did come, he was not what they expected.
As I’ve thought about the Christmas story I’ve come to realize that nothing really changed the night Jesus was born. Sure, angels came and sang to a few shepherds. A star shone brightly. A poor young woman gave birth to a son, and there was no room for them…
King Herod still ruled the country. The poor were still oppressed. The empire still watched from afar and dominated life in this remote province. Slaves were sold. Women abused. Children went hungry. Life was still hard. Yet in the midst of that darkness, hope was born. As the angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
“Joy that will be for all people… a Savior has been born.” Nothing had changed, yet everything was different. The season of Advent is almost upon us – a time of preparation for both Jesus’ historical and future coming. A time of entering into the experience of waiting. And in this context I can appreciate how I am kept waiting and anticipating my visa, and the joy we will all have when it arrives. How much more the joy at the birth of Emmanuel – God with us!
A few items for prayer:
– In my last letter I mentioned Gilberto. He’s doing amazingly well, and is such an encouragement to us. He’s been thriving at home, is enrolled in an accelerated education program, and is the proud employee of a bakery downtown. He’s committed to his church (even singing in the Christmas program) and his family. His joy is contagious. He looks like a completely different person, and it’s been a huge privilege to walk alongside him in this. Do keep him in your prayers though. He still needs them.
– It’s been hard to be gone from the Servant Team I was leading for the past few weeks. Pray for them as their time finishes out, and for a good final few weeks as they prepare to take the next step God has for them.
– Thanks so much for your encouragement and support. I am always humbled. I’m continuing to trust God to provide through people, as he has done countless times in the past. But I wanted to ask you to be in prayer with me about it, and make known my needs. Also, sometimes I just need a hug or two. If anyone that can meet that need, I would be most grateful. And I am humbled again by your sacrificial generosity and desire to be a part of my life and what God is doing in Rio.
May this Christmas season be a time of joy and of hope for you and your families. Thank you for allowing me into your lives – for being a part of my family that is working to care for our brothers and sisters on the streets and favelas. May this Christmas be one of joy for ALL people…