Monday, December 07, 2009

O Come O Come Emmanuel

The following is a reflection written by Anne Krane, one of this year's Volunteers living at the North House.

When I asked my pre-schoolers how they were going to get ready for Jesus’ birthday during advent, I got some awesome answers:

“I’m going to make him a cake.”
“I’m going to buy him a car.”
“I’m going to take him to the zoo and to Chuck E. Cheese.”

We had talked about Advent. We had sung at least three songs about candles, and we had made wreaths. From all of the details, I think that they understood the most important part. They were excited to be able to plan and prepare to do something kind and generous for someone else. I try to carry what I learn from these students home with me each day. Our community is large and busy, and our days are long; when we settle down to dinner together each night, it is a challenge to shake off the fatigue from the day and facilitate the generosity and kindness the season encourages.

Our house didn’t have an advent wreath, so last Monday we got together our craft supplies and made one, pre-school style. Each member of our house traced their hand, and wrote something that they hoped for on it, along with their name. We surrounded it with candles, and it has served as a beautiful reminder of the season and what we are here to do. We have many hands in our community, and we are making sure that during this season of light and preparation, we are using them to do God’s work.

Sometimes we fail at this. Like all communities, we allow stress and anxiety to shake our faith, and complicate our purpose here. Sometimes instead of discussing, we argue; sometimes instead of supporting, we cut each other down.

The children I work with are young, weak, and mostly come from households that are in need; my community can also feel weak against the seemingly insurmountable problems in our community, at our work sites, and in the world. It seems as though we are unlikely and inadequate choices to be spreading the message of God; but we are often surprised with the choices God makes. God chose a simple carpenter, a frightened young girl, and a humble stable. From the seemingly hopeless and powerless can sometimes come extraordinary gifts.