I got lost in Disney World when I was six years old. After riding Space Mountain with my siblings and my dad, I was walking through the gift shop and something beautiful caught my eye: a brand new Reba McEntire cd in one of those exquisite spiraling glass cases. I was mesmerized. Who doesn’t love Reba?
It only took a moment of distraction, and when I turned around, I found no one and nothing familiar. Where was my family? I became overcome with fear. I was lost in the not-so-magical-feeling world of Disney. Luckily, my dad is a man with a plan, and he told us in the car that morning, “Ok guys, if anyone gets separated from the group, we are going to meet at Cinderella’s Castle. Everybody understand? Cinderella’s Castle. That’s very important.”
So there I stood. A little brown-haired six-year-old frightened out of her mind. For whatever reason, I had the intuition at that age to keep it together. I wanted to cry and scream out for my dad, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was lost. So, I started walking toward Cinderella’s Castle. I moseyed around the front side of the Castle….and I waited. I had to trust that my dad would come for me. And then, finally, out of the crowd emerged my dad. He came running towards me and I toward him. My dad found me. He came….for me. He later told me that I was lost for about 30 minutes, but it felt like an eternity.
The word “Advent” comes from a Latin word that means “coming”. Right now, as a Church, we find ourselves in that season of waiting on someone who is coming. Maybe we even feel a little bit lost. Sometimes, in seasons of waiting it can feel like an eternity, and it can be agonizing. I know from my own experience that sometimes this season of Advent can be one of the busiest and most distracted times of the year.
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that,
“John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.” (Jn 5: 35-36)
John was sent to tell us (especially those of us who might find ourselves a bit distracted) that Jesus is indeed coming. That our hope lies is the truth that we are waiting on a wonderful Savior who will stay true to his word, who will show up to rescue us. But sometimes the waiting isn’t the only thing that’s difficult…
This time of year, though filled with great expectation and a myriad of wonderful Advent and Christmas happenings, is actually quite difficult for many. There’s often a scramble at work, many lists to check twice, and an abundance of family members to spend time with…for better or for worse. As we prepared to release a new music and video series for Advent and Christmas, we at The Vigil Project were drawn into prayer over these themes of waiting, of family, and of our real need for a Savior. How do all of these things connect? We believe that the answers lie no further than the Holy Family. Here is a family in great expectation, but one also operating under very stressful and messy circumstances. Mary’s journey on a donkey being 9 months pregnant is less than ideal…then she gives birth in a cave…then she welcomes guests into her birthing place soon after giving birth…then the whole family flees for their lives in the middle of the night. What I’m saying is that their circumstances were less than perfect. Yet God chose to come right smack dab in the center of those imperfect circumstances to make their family “holy”.
We invite you to journey with us this Advent and Christmas as we wait for the coming of our Savior into the particular circumstances of our own lives and families. This is indeed the place he wants to come, and it is the place we need him most! For this reason, The Vigil Project has created an abundance of resources – music, videos, artwork, reflections – that you can use to lead your family to an encounter with Jesus and take a step forward together in holiness. We believe in the power of praying with our families, though imperfect and uncomfortable sometimes. We believe great miracles can come from the monotony of a living room (in fact, our entire Advent/Christmas series is filmed in a living room!). We believe that, regardless of the circumstances, all families are called to be holy families.
Perhaps this is the place many of us find ourselves waiting for our Savior to come. Like my dad came searching for me, Christ comes to seek and save you and your family. Insert your name. It’s personal, it’s individual, and it’s real. In this season of waiting, of maybe even feeling lost…let us choose trust. Trust that we have God who knows us and sees us. Trust that we have a God who becomes part of the human family to save his children. He comes for us, because we are in need of a Savior.
Andrea Thomas, artist from the Vigil Project – a community of artists, musicians, and filmmakers that produce multimedia resource for deep prayer and authentic encounter with God. For more on the Vigil Project, visit thevigilproject.com.