I am always interested in films that involve pastors, whether the pastors are good or bad. Because this is something I know from the inside out, it is not hard to tell whether or not the filmmaker actually knows what he or she is doing in writing or casting the character. Phillip Youmans knows what he is doing in Burning Cane (2019; streaming on Netflix).

Thanksgiving is over. The leftovers are still plentiful – turkey, stuffing, candied yams, maybe even a few pieces of pecan pie. Yes, that awkward dinner with the in-laws – or as I remember my dad wearing a name tag marked “Outlaw” at a family reunion – and life continues. As usual, there is no shortage of things to do, but those tasks are different around this time.

If anyone experienced the sturm und drang of waiting and watching for God, it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.[1]  Sitting in a prison cell, he hoped to be released, hoped for the war to end, hoped to spend Christmas with his family, hoped Jesus would descend with a blast of trumpets. Days turned to months and months rolled into years. While we want to think he was always happy, fulfilled by his faith in Christ, his letters show us the struggles of a real martyr in a real world.

Advent is the season of arrival; the anticipation of the coming of God. We count down on the Advent Wreath each Sunday as we light another candle and move closer to Christmas, to the great arrival of God all those years ago in the little town of Bethlehem. We celebrate the fact that our God is not a God who stays far off, is only a dream or an empty promise. No, our God is a God who comes. He advents with His people. He arrives and His arrival changes things.

I remember getting one the greatest gifts ever when I was 8 years old.  It was a Star Wars laser game. It came with a real laser gun and a motorized spinning wheel of storm trooper targets.  I could not believe it when I saw it. I ripped open the box and started putting it together. I cannot remember if I even said, “Thanks,” but I knew my parents were pretty happy with my response.  As a parent, nothing gives me more joy than to see my kids play and use presents I get them.  I do not need any elaborate thanks.  Or, another example is when my wife makes her usual wonderful meals, nothing thrills her more than the guests gobbling it down.