You’re the author of a new Christmas novel that you hope will one day become a classic. What would you choose as the setting for your Christmas story?
I probably wouldn’t be able to resist setting it in Victorian England.
I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God’s saving power…. Our temptation is to be distracted by them…. When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence – the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends – I will always remain tempted to despair.
The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
And a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and might,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
We welcome you, small child of Bethlehem, whose coming we await with quiet attention. Shield us from the shouts, the screams, the empty promises of the season, and encourage us to turn our hopes to your coming. We know that the promise is hidden in the stable in Bethlehem and rooted in the offspring of Jesse; let us look for our salvation there. Amen.
-Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen by Henri Nouwen
Here’s a picture of my nephew, Patrick, with his Advent calendar. He doesn’t quite understand the concept of just pulling out one figure a day yet, but he still has fun.