Can it be Christmas if there is no bread pudding? Will we feel the awesome joy & delight & anticipation if we have few decorations and no family and neighbor-friends. If we don’t attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service? If I have no piano?
Without parties and shopping and glowing fireplace, will the “coming” be glorious?
When we decided to arrive in Costa Rica before Christmas, I was up for the adventure, but definitely uncertain what it would mean for the kids and for me as far as our emotions related to this great season of celebration.
Last night we were invited to attend a special Christmas worship service at a small church in Cartago, a city about 20 minutes from where we are staying. Our new friends, Tony and Anna Grace, graciously drove out of their way to transport us and watched over us the whole night.
They meet in a large, windowed room on the corner of a city block and when we arrived, the folding chairs were quickly filling with people, the tables with dishes of yellow rice & chicken & black beans, and the air with recorded music as the worship team got situated on the stage.
We sat toward the back and waited eagerly. It’s a very strange experience to be enveloped in words and conversation and music and yet be completely unable to understand any of it. To be wholly dependent on the kindness and ability of others to translate or attempt your language.
(We haven’t run into many fluent English speakers, which is very good and challenging for us!)
The team of musicians, men and women with shakers and electric keyboard and guitars, led a medley of Christmas songs, almost all familiar tunes, from Silent Night to Grown-Up Christmas List and we listened and swayed and joined an occasional line of harmony.
When the pastor, a tall and gracious gentleman who had come out to greet us at the street, stood to preach, I was all ears, straining hard to understand some little bit.
What I recognized and understood were not the sentences he spoke, but the power of the gospel in his voice.
The Name. Jesus… Jesus… Jesus. Regalo…
And I listened to the singing and the preaching and thought:
These are His people, too. I have family here. And some day there will be no language barrier between us. One day the only thing that really matters will be the only thing.
Long ago God crossed invisible borders and entered our country speaking a new language called Hope and Rescue, made this language accessible to every human in every land through the power of His Spirit.
It was a glorious coming, and will always be so, whatever country we inhabit and regardless of décor or tradition.
It doesn’t need to be contrived or conjured because it really, truly, actually IS.
There is no fear that Christmas won’t find us when we are far from home (as we all are), because Christmas is not a feeling but a Person, and He found us years ago.
May your last week of waiting be full with the joy and gladness of being found, wherever you are...