“When Christ comes into your life, he changes your life forever,” the preacher said.
“Forever?!” she asked.
“Yes forever!” he said.
This brief conversation occurred in the middle of a sermon. My husband and I were visiting with my daughter at a church near her home in Winter Park, Florida. My daughter is a nanny, and the occasion was the baptism of the little boy that she cares for. This little boy has a sister who is barely three years old. She is a beautiful, bright-eyed, curious little girl. Settled into her daddy’s lap on the front row of the church eating her snack, who would have thought that she was listening to the preacher, but she was. Her ears were tuned in, and she awakened an attentiveness in me.
It was the third Sunday of Advent, and as the preacher began to share his message, he unveiled a figurine of the baby Jesus lying in the manger. It was the one that belongs in the church’s nativity scene and it had recently gone missing. One dedicated member of this congregation began the search for the baby Jesus and found him tucked away behind some boxes in the church’s basement. Jesus had been found.
The pastor shared this good news with the congregation and developed his sermon around the joy of this discovery. Christ comes into the world – the Word is made flesh and lives among us. That is cause for celebration, yet the news gets better. Not only does Christ come to us, but Christ also brings light, love, joy, peace, and the hope of salvation to us. These gifts are found when we search for Christ, find him, and bring him out from the places where we have tucked him away.
We bring Christ into our lives, but we don’t just place him literally and figuratively in our lives for this season. We bring him into our lives for the long haul. “When Christ comes, he changes your life forever,” the preacher said. “Forever?!” the three-year old asked…aloud!....in church!...in the middle of the sermon!...in the sweet way that only a three-year-old can ask. “Yes, forever,” he replied to her question, and my heart was touched and opened by this precious child’s innocent wondering.
Forever is a time frame that none of us can wrap our minds around. How do we absorb such a thing? We only relate to the world in limited measures. That God will love us and hold us for eternity, well that makes us all want to ask, “Forever?!” “Yes, forever,” God says. “You are mine, and I am yours forever.”
We often try to put God into a box. We limit God’s ability to love and offer grace. We forget that God’s love and grace are so much bigger than our minds can comprehend. They are eternal – forever – for all.
In this season, and in every season, may the coming of Christ stretch our minds and our hearts. May Christ expand our comprehension of a greater love, a greater hope, a greater joy, and a greater peace.
It’s the fourth week of Advent. Our waiting sometimes leaves us feeling doubtful, but the assurance is that Christ comes. Yes, Emmanuel comes and changes our lives forever!