By Annie Lavi
I browsed online for Christmas cards, scrolling through the masses of options late one evening. As I searched, I found my cursor on a section entitled “Pandemic Holiday Cards.” My curiosity was sparked, and as I checked the contents of said category, I came across an abundance of sample cards with pictures of kids in masks, and sayings on the bottom such as “Spreading Only Cheer, not Viruses this Year,” “Good Riddance, 2020,” and my personal favorite, “Jingle Bells, COVID Smells.”
While I can appreciate a good joke at the end of a monumental year, it’s the “Good Riddance” attitude that gets to me. Even now as I remember the cards, I can’t help but feel that when we are all pining for the day when the calendar finally says “2021,” we might be missing the point of what we are actually supposed to be longing for in 2020.
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While all other things ebb and flow, even in 2020, He remained exactly who he always has been.
Advent, or a season “awaiting the arrival of a significant person,” was always supposed to be about allowing ourselves, before Christmas, to feel the weight of the imperfect, the heaviness of walking in a world in which we are still marked by waiting. Advent is especially timely this year, because it enters at the end of a season where we all have felt, in some way or another, the brokenness of the world we live in. The pandemic, the social unrest and political division, and even the lack of toilet paper can drive us to the desire to just “move on,” or they can all point to something else, if we let them: the need for a world to be redeemed, and a Savior to come to our rescue.
I read recently in Jen Wilkin’s fantastic book, None Like Him, about God’s immutability, or the way that he never changes. The world is changing faster than most of us can handle or keep up with, but in all of the chaos, God has given us the gift of setting our eyes above our circumstances, which will always change, and onto the Lord himself, who never does. While all other things ebb and flow, even in 2020, He remained exactly who he always has been. He still remained our perfect Parent who saw us and loved us, our Redeemer who died on a cross for us, and our trustworthy Savior who promised to return and make all things right.
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My family has spent much time this December singing loudly and dancing in our living room to a Christmas classic, “Joy to the World.” As I spun my baby around for the umpteenth time yesterday, I sang out loud the words, “Let every heart, prepare him room,” and as we twirled, I found a tear in my eye while my little son giggled in delight. At the end of this wild year which has made me long for different circumstances, I can look back and see that what the Lord has been doing in my heart this whole year was continually preparing room for him, the one who will bring the ultimate different circumstance when he returns.
That beautiful song was originally written based on Psalm 98, which is a celebration not of Christ coming the first time, but the second, when “he will come to judge the earth.” The Psalm calls for people, seas, rivers, and mountains to sing to the Lord in celebration of his subsequent coming, for when he does, “He will judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity.”
This is his promise to us, that one day, all will be made right and equitable, and at the close of 2020, I don’t just want to go to sleep rejoicing that the calendar has flipped and hope that the new year will bring better days. I want to rest rejoicing at the Lord’s reminders that his immutable assurance of a world one day made right is the solid foundation that I can build my hope on.