This is my first Advent post for the year. For those of you who follow other faiths or no faith at all, I hope these posts will give you an idea of what Advent is and what Christmas means to Christians.
What do you hope for? Tuesday, at the junior high choir concert, I heard, once again, the song "My Grown-Up Christmas List." Take a listen to Amy Grant singing it. I'll be waiting until you come back.
Grown-Up Christmas List
What I love about the song, what moves me most, is that line about everyone having a friend. Most of us can't stop wars, or speed up time to heal hearts, or make right always win. But every last one of us can make that grown-up wish of friendship come true for someone.
Be a friend.
Friendship takes so many forms it's hard to define. It's a fluid concept. When we try to create rules about friendship, or pin it down, or expect it to be only a certain way, or set limits on it, we damage the friendship or kill it completely.
Each friendship is unique, and each friendship goes through good times and bad. Sometimes one friend needs more, then the other. Over time, friendship generally balances out, but some very kind people were my friends when I had very little to give back to them. They never asked me to pay what I owed them on the scale of friendship, and so I've tried to pay their gift forward. It's become quite a joy to be friends to others who need more friendship than I do.
Any two people can be friends. I've had friends who were atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Jewish, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Missouri-Synod Lutheran, and most other Protestant persuasions. I've never had a Hindu or Muslim friend and consider that something I need to correct. I've had friends who were much older, much younger, similar to me, completely different from me. I've even had a few friends who didn't like to read.
Can you even imagine?
Have you noticed that we must put energy into friendship to keep it flowing. Over our many moves in the military, incredibly close friends drifted away because I was no longer in their daily sphere. It was too much work to stay connected to me. We lost touch. The final death knell of the friendship...being cut from their Christmas card list.
That hurt a bit, at first, to realize I still wanted to work at the friendship and they did not, but I eventually learned that it's normal and natural and even good to let go and move on. I treasure the memory of friends like Deena and Becky, though I doubt I will ever see them or hear from them again. They made a wonderful difference in my life, and now, I am certain, they are making wonderful differences in other people's lives.
Occasionally, those lost friends do reconnect. What a joy that is!
Christians sing, "What a friend we have in Jesus." There's a different sort of friendship for you. Talk about one-sided. He does all the work. Freely. He accepts us as we are, flaws and all, and loves us without ceasing and beyond our understanding. All we have to do is show up in prayer and faith and trust, let Him wash our feet and hearts, wrap us in a hug, lift us up from our sickness and sorrow. He's not a transient friend who fades from our lives and forgets about us or doesn't have time for us. He's always there. Eternally.
How it breaks His heart when we lose touch with Him, when we cut Him from our Christmas list!
During Advent, we anticipate and prepare for His birth, the birth of our Savior and Friend. It's our time to reconnect with our Friend, to remember what He does for us and with us.
God with us. Emmanuel.
It's my hope...my grown-up Christmas wish...that we pay His friendship forward, and share that selfless, compassionate, kind, loving friendship with the world. Let's not put rules on that friendship; let's not expect others to be just like us or become just like us.
Let's be friends for a world in need.
What's your grown-up Christmas wish?