Pastor Sylvia Peterson

Former Co-Pastor Sylvia Peterson

This is my favorite season.

Our house begins to smell like melted chocolate, almond dust, and gooey vanilla nougat the day after Thanksgiving. My husband starts his annual Christmas tradition: homemade Almond Roca. Last year he made 16 quadruple batches.

It’s interesting to review our lists from previous years and see who will receive a tin this year. Each friend, family member receives their own batch. Rarely is anyone dropped; names are frequently added. Quite frankly, it does require a bold act of heroics to make the list your first year. 

I’m sure we’ll need more batches for 2020 than we needed in 2019 as the pandemic has illuminated a lot of heroes.

While my husband is making candy, I am enjoying quiet contemplation of the posting he made yesterday to our friends with Walk to Emmaus, a program presented through the Upper Room of the Methodist Church.

He wrote, “I love the seasons of the Christian faith walk. Annually, we dust off old liturgies, and speak or sing them afresh. We say old prayers in new ways—or try new prayers on themes older than the church itself. We pick up our symbols, phrases, and songs, turn them slowly around in our mind, and listen to ancient themes that are surprisingly and reassuringly relevant today. 

“Each year we have an opportunity to re-experience Advent, the sacred story of ‘God is on His Way!’”

The phrase “God is on His way”, describes in five words an event all of scripture—both Old and New Testaments—can barely explain.

The same God who created the earth, and everything on it, decided to leave the glory of heaven and come to earth disguised as a Jewish baby born to dirt-poor, unwed parents.

The gospel by Matthew says…

“The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—God saves—because he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matt 1:18-23)

Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies when he journeyed to earth. His mission was to save people and lead them back to heaven.

You’d think God might get here surrounded by iridescent clouds in the sky, riding on a large white stallion, protected by a band of fiercely holy angelic beings. He didn’t.

He showed up in squalid conditions—humble and vulnerable. He appeared with all our physical barriers, human inconveniences, and troublingly dysfunctional families.

He could have sent maps to sinners who were hopelessly lost: “Turn left after this mistake. Watch out! There are serious temptations ahead.” He didn’t do that either. 

Instead, God, who is three beings (Father, Son, and Spirit), decided that the Father would send the Son to save us. Aware that we all have difficulty reading moral maps, He came in person to lead us home in person.

Advent is the season when Christians anticipate the arrival of their heavenly king—God in Man—who came down from heaven and will personally lead us to our forever home.

It’s a lot to comprehend while tasting Husband’s Amazing Roca.

•••

Sylvia Peterson is a former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and an author. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at sylviap7@comcast.net. She is the author of “The Red Door: Where Hurt and Holiness Collide,” which can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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