Expected Advent

There are moments when the things my children say take me totally off guard. Listening to the sweet little voices coming from their young mouths yet hearing something totally unexpected and shocking. Most of these times it gives me opportunity to reflect on my parenting and try to discover where they learned such a thing. Sometimes we all need a little gut-check upon realizing how our children are piecing together the world. For me, today was that very occasion.

My son was happily drawing Star Wars spaceships in his notebook, as he does when he must sit quietly. The church was mostly silent, except for the ruffle of a few papers during the pastor’s sermon. In this season of Advent, we have several Sundays to consider the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we will celebrate on Christmas Eve. The pastor was recounting the story of John the Baptist and the events following Jesus’ baptism. He summed up his message by saying this: “Your God is a God who hides in offensive and lowly things. Therefore you are blessed because you are not offended but believe.”

I looked down the pew at my line of 5 kiddos, my son farthest away. We have too many conversations in our house about what my girls think is offensive and aggressive in their petty teenage world. But here, they did not even flinch. No quizzical look on their face, no visible wonderings about this offensive God. My son continued to sketch, and my girls focused straight ahead. So, on first assessment I wondered if they were even listening.

After church, I gathered with all the children in the Sunday school classroom. We were going over the Christmas program; the songs and lines and costumes and places. I simply asked the kids a few questions about our God, how he did the most wonderous thing in our history. Piece by piece the children proudly boasted about the most offensive and lowly things of Jesus: born in a manger, birthed by a plain girl named Mary, died on a cross, chose us by water and His Word.

They were not offended by this strange way the Holy Son of God stepped into their existence. They were expectant, comfortable with God’s strange gifts of unjust forgiveness, of brothers and sisters not by blood, of new life and an eternal home. They just trust and believe.

Today, I reflected on how they came to know such great and wonderous things about their God without fear. It has been the story they have heard from the beginning of their understanding: God working in opposites and choosing the lowly. The narrative of a God who descends into the dirt at the right time while we were still sinners. God offending the strong and wise with a shockingly passive trust in the Advent of our Lord.