my dad asked today when my advent posts would start, so i guess it’s time to say something about this wonderful season 🙂 it’s already here- the first week of advent! in some traditions, this week signifies the hope and prophecies. they celebrate looking back at a time when people had faith in a messiah that they had only heard whispers about and would never meet in their lifetime. the faith they had is finally fully satisfied in the Christ who comes, but they believed well before he was ever conceived. they believed the promises of God before they became “yes” and “amen” in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20).
there is so much to say about this expectant longing, and i have been going back and forth about what way to go. last year i shared songs that had advent themes, and this year i’ve decided i’m going to share children’s books that have advent themes. as an elementary school teacher in a public school, i unfortunately never have the opportunity to share with my students the revolutionary truth that this season is about God With Us, and that he loves them perfectly and unconditionally. i do, however, have a lot of great christmas children’s books, so i will share them all with you.
this week, i want to share a story that’s not solely a Christmas story (though Christmas is a feature). i do think it illustrates hope in something we can’t taste yet, in something that’s been promised but we can’t experience or imagine yet. The Tale of the Three Trees is one of my favorite children’s books (disclaimer: i will probably say that every week). in the story, three trees are growing on a hillside and each of them has dreams for what they hope will happen in their life. one tree hopes to be a treasure chest. one tree hopes to be a strong sailing ship, and one tree wishes to be the tallest tree in the world: she wants people to look at her and give glory to God.
as i’m sure you can imagine, the hopes of the three trees were not quite fulfilled in the way they had expected. each tree is chopped down in turn (especially disappointing for the third tree). the first tree is made into a feed box for animals, the second tree made into a small dinghy, and the third tree is simply cut into lumber. it seems that their hopes have been dashed. what they had expected could not possibly come to happen, and the third tree had only wanted to glorify God. why would he not fulfill that hope for her?
of course the story doesn’t end there. the first tree, now a manger, is blessed to hold a bigger treasure than it could have possibly contained in a treasure chest- Jesus. the second tree, now a small fishing boat, holds Jesus and his disciples when Jesus calms the storm, and has it’s hopes fulfilled by carrying the King of Kings. the third tree is carried on through an angry crowd and has Christ nailed to her to die. how much more glory was God given in that act than he would have been through the tallest tree in the world?
Jesus fulfilled all of the many prophecies that had been made about him, but remarkably he still didn’t fulfill what people had expected. the God-man was the perfect completion of everything humanity had hoped for, and still they seemed disappointed in him for not riding into human battle for them.
this Christmas, i pray that we would remember that all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. even if it seems like whatever you are going through cannot line up with what God has promised for you, he will fulfill his will to his greatest glory in all things.
so light a candle. give thanks that our hope has been fulfilled tangibly in Emmanuel. and hope. God cannot but remember his promises.