Second Week of Advent: A Christmas Love Letter
I am so excited to share with you an early Christmas gift — my replica of an 18th century lap desk. These desks were the Colonial version of today’s laptops, providing those on the go with all the things they needed to write letters — parchment, a feather quill, powder ink, wax to seal the documents. It is said that much of the Revolutionary War documents were written on lap desks: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton all had one. Even literary giants such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens had “laptops.”
My 18th century writing box got me thinking about the art of handwriting a letter. It’s not like an email or a text. Handwriting means you have to really take the time to compose your thoughts, that time taken in itself can show another person how much you care. And without autocorrect or an online thesaurus, handwriting means you have to think more deeply about the words you use. Handwriting can bring out the poets in us.
The more I thought about the time and care it takes to handwrite a letter, the more I thought about God’s letters to us — especially God’s Christmas love letters and how these notes were delivered by messengers, such as John the Baptizer, who comes to us in Scripture today.
Yes, John’s message of “repent” is indeed a love letter, for without repentance — which means basically “turn back to God” —how will we ever fully prepare to receive Christ into our hearts? Repent is a loving invitation to stop doing the things that hurt ourselves and others and open our lives to God. We will see in Mark’s Gospel that before those coming to have John baptize them, they had to confess their sins first.
A fresh start with God cannot happen until we confess. We see this with the prophet Isaiah who, in his vision of being in the presence of God, cries out, “Woe is me. I am not worthy.” It is then God takes a piece of coal and blots Isaiah’s lips. Isaiah, after confessing, is made clean by God. He is ready to serve God and God’s children.
This Advent, as we prepare for the coming of Christmas, let us keep in our minds God’s love letters. Letters that tell us to turn back to God, to not fear, to rejoice…and then I invite you to take time this week to write your own Christmas love letter — to God, letting God know how much His presence means to you.
Advent blessings to you!
The beginning of the good news[a] of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,[d]
who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John the baptizer appeared[e] in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with[f] water; but he will baptize you with[g] the Holy Spirit.”