December 9, 2016, 10:56 AM

Advent Reflection

“The world waits for a miracle, the heart longs for a little bit of hope… O come, O come Emmanuel.” I am listening to these words in a modern Christmas song by Lauren Daigle while reflecting on Advent. Advent is a time of preparation and prayer, and yes, of waiting and longing. We reflect on the First Coming of Christ, who came to the waiting world to be God with us, Emmanuel. The Gospel of John records Jesus stating a reason why he came: “I came that they may have life,” and he said not just life, but life to the full (John 10:10). Full Life Development gets its name from this verse. Our work is among minority people groups from Burma (Myanmar) who have fled oppression, violence, forced relocation, and extreme poverty to start a new life in Thailand. I sometimes feel overwhelmed at all of the injustice that these and so many others have faced. We are faced with the disconnect that Christ came for us to have abundant life, but so many do not experience this. Many people wait for justice and do not see it. 
What is our part? Our organization is giving blankets to families in workers’ camps on the Thai-Burma border for Christmas. Maybe that is a way to give them some peace and hope, too. We also speak of peace and hope for a world that is longing for it, but sometimes, especially in recent times, peace and hope can seem so impossible that perhaps we are weary or feel foolish for even speaking of them, while so many people don’t have either. But we cannot give up. I believe God invites us to partner in the work of bringing life, peace, and hope to the world. That work can seem overwhelming or even impossible at times, but I remember that we are not alone in it. There are many others involved in working for justice, peace, and sharing hope. Like Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Let us remember that and be encouraged. May this Advent be a time to pause in our weariness, to remember that Christ came into the world for us all to have abundant life. May we focus anew on Emmanuel in this Advent season and remember that God- God of the cross and of the marginalized- is with us. 
“Hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance” (Romans 8:25).