On the first night of Advent, my mother laughed and requested a flashlight. The single candle wasn’t bright enough for her to read from our devotional. Every night afterwards the light grew brighter and brighter. My heart longed for the final candle, Jesus’ candle, to be lit. On Christmas night, it is hard to describe what a beautiful a sight we beheld in those candles. The light is never brighter than when the Prince of Peace is present. Gratitude arose in my voice and my joy was complete on the last night of advent.

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Throughout the month, my parents cleverly used advent to teach my younger brother and me Christmas carols. When I first learned the songs years ago, my family didn’t know that we would relocate to a country where the native tongue wasn’t English. Few people understand the joy that comes from having heard God praised in a different dialect. Fewer comprehend the anguish of going months without having worshipped in a congregation that spoke your language. The carols were the sound of water which flowed in a desert. I’m grateful that my parents took the initiative and taught carols through advent.

When we read the devotions around the candlelight, it was like I sat at Jesus’ feet. As we listened it was like I could feel Jesus becoming vulnerable so we could come closer. As a TCK (Third Culture Kid), I see how he left his host culture to come to earth and his parents’ host culture when he was whisked off to Egypt. The most mighty being in the galaxy must have felt like he didn’t belong. Mary and Joseph must have struggled, too. He saw their weakness, but he never gave up on them. He saw the flaws of all the cultures, but he still embraced them. People stared at him. They treated him with disrespect. How could someone so different help the ones who thought they knew it all? But he died for them. With a grateful heart, I saw those images flicker in my head like sparks from the candles as we read our devotions.

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Christmas builds up to be the best time of the year, yet so many people are disappointed by it. As someone who grew up in the land where it never snows, (a.k.a., the equator) I understand that frustration. The problem is we are admiring the wrong things. This holiday represents when heaven bent down to earth, not when earth rose up to heaven. All three elements of advent have made Christmas my favorite time of year. The candles remind me that Jesus is what makes Christmas joyful. The singing taught me to worship God. The devotions convinced me that Jesus was human, and he is my friend. I’m so grateful for my family and the God we serve.

 

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