I love this time of year! But not for the reasons you might expect. It’s not for the lights, the music or Santa…for me it’s the Anticipation! You see, I love that feeling! If Christmas were up to me…I would never open a gift…I would just leave it there…all wrapped up so I could look at it and wonder what was inside. I wouldn’t shake it or gently peel off the tape from the wrapping paper…I would just look at it…and that would make me happy.
Well, it’s Christmas time here in Antigua, Guatemala and the churches are celebrating Advent, which means “coming” in Latin. Each Sunday leading up to Christmas, the streets are filled with people, bands and processions carrying statues of Mary, Jesus and various Angels. They shoot off fireworks in front of the procession as well as after it passes.
The anticipation of the birth of Christ and the celebrations that are to come in just a few weeks cannot be ignored. I catch myself being both joyous and humbled as the crowds of people pass by my door in celebration that God came thru with His promise.
Thinking about the fact that 400 years passed between the promise of the coming Lord (Malachi 3:1) and the news of His arrival (Matthew) humbles me on several levels. First of all…that’s a long time to wait… and secondly…it’s a long time to hold hope. I’m not sure I could have done it. But as always…God was true to His word.
So, as I think about “Anticipation” being one my favorite feelings, I begin to wonder where that feeling originates. I believe it originates with “Hope.” This may not be the correct definition, but this is what I believe. I believe Hope is the belief that something is good is coming and Anticipation is the feeling that is caused by Hope.
We don’t hear too much about Hope these days. Maybe it’s because many of us feel like we are in control of our life and circumstances and we feel like we don’t need it. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Everyone needs Hope! I love this quote:
“Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” – unknown
I believe it!
I have been working here in Guatemala for several years and living here for almost two. During that time, I’ve been involved in training pastors and business people, working in medical clinics and building stoves. All of that has been wonderful and I think we have made a positive impact on the community to some degree. But what I think has made the greatest difference is just being here… and lovin’ on people.
I think that just lovin’ on people gives them Hope. Hope that they are ok and that they will be ok. I think it provides a spark where Faith can grow. Faith that might lead them to do something that will improve their life, Faith that tomorrow might be better than today. Faith that God has not…and will not…abandoned them.
Yep, I think Hope is the spark to everything that is good. We need it…and we need more of us dishing it out to others in massive proportions.
So my prayer for all of us this Christmas season is to make a concerted effort to “love on people.” Anybody you can, wherever you can. Love on them with a smile, a pat on the back, a “good morning” or a “thank you.” Everytime you pass by that man or woman ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, drop some of your spare change in the bucket…not necessarily for them…but for you.
Everyone you can…wherever you can.
Give Hope this season…it costs you nothing…but its affect never goes unappreciated…or unnoticed.