In this Christmas season, this season of Advent, we all get excited by the many activities. My favorite is the annual ginger bread house building competition at my house (back-to-back-to-back runner-up, let’s go!). For some it may be wrapping presents, decorating the Christmas tree or simply being in the company of family and friends you haven’t seen in a while (maybe since last Christmas).
However, have you ever encountered one of those awkward moments when you’re at home after a long day of binge-watching Marvel movies or “Die Hard” (yes, it is a Christmas movie) and hear your doorbell ring? You open your door and your family from Texas greets you with warm smiles and excitement. You’re excited to see them as well, but you also would have appreciated a heads up so you’re not wearing crummy pajamas after they said they wouldn’t be here until next week. I love people, but I have to say that I don’t particularly enjoy when people important in my life show up unannounced.
Then I think, well, Jesus kind of did that. Kind of. Jesus seemed to show up unannounced, but in reality, his coming was actually foretold. I think of the many prophecies of Jesus’ coming. I like to think of these as promises, promises that created the hope that continues to inspire our faith today and assure us that God’s promises are true. Here are a few examples:
- Isaiah saying, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
- Micah saying the messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the city of David. Then when the time came, Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, Joseph’s birthplace, to be counted in the Roman census; they were yet to be wed, but she was expecting our savior. Talk about unexpected! “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).
- In Hosea 11:1, we hear Jesus would be called out of Egypt. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Out of Egypt came the tribe of Israel, descendants of Jacob.”
- In Genesis 22:18, the account reminds us Jesus would be a descendant of Abraham “and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” A promise made so long ago, held true over time.
From these promises comes our hope, and out of hope comes our faith—a faith that, especially as we move into and engage in this Christmas season, calls us to remember the least, the last and lost. Those that may experience separation from the Lord, that may be lacking hope.
There are ways we, as representatives of Fresno Pacific University, are able to engage as a both a university gathered and a university scattered in our community. May you be that messenger who may also show up unannounced and serve as courageously as Jesus, who did not come to be served but to serve. I will say that we don’t have to serve Jesus, we really do not have to. However, we are called into this great service and get to serve. I continue to reflect on his words in Matthew 25:31-40 that ends with: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
So, though your family members may show up unannounced, just like mine, may we use this time as a reminder that God’s promises are true, and he is forever faithful. May we remember those in our community experiencing brokenness, or even separation from God. Though our vocation may be tied to FPU, may we purposely transform our community in new and creative ways. Peace be with you and your families in this season.