This advent calendar from my childhood—the one that prompted this series—that is now replicated in my own home, is two feet by three feet. The bottom half has pockets, the top, a puffy felt Christmas tree. The calendar is made of deep red corduroy with Christmas-green felt numbers to mark each pocket, numbers 1-25. Each pocket held an ornament created with multiple layers of felt, sequins, thread and glue. A manger, an angel, a black heart, a jack-in-the-box and more. We'd stick each ornament on the green puffy tree using the wonders of velcro. It always hung in our dining room and most nights after dinner, we'd read the verses off the worn, wrinkled little squares of paper.
Most of the time, I think there wasn't or isn't anything particularly amazing about a day's given verses. Sometimes they even seem a bit obscure. You could read them in rote fashion and not pause. The other night, my young daughter interrupted me reading about the angels with, "Dad, are we done yet? I've already heard this story."
But it's context. These verses are context.
I am constantly wanting context. Ask anyone who has worked with me and I'm annoying with my questions. I always want to know the context. The whys and hows and whens. It's how I make decisions and understand the world.
So, these verses are particularly amazing! They are pieces of this incredible story. They give context to this moment in the fullness of time, when God came down. And over the years of pulling this calendar out at the beginning of each December sometimes that seeps in and I pause.
Here is the reading for the fifth day of Advent:
"But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus, we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage."
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.
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