It was the call you never want to get, the kind you never forget. I was rehearsing with our church Christmas choir on a Sunday afternoon, when someone tapped me on the shoulder and whispered: “Your mom called and needs you to come to the hospital right away. It’s your dad.” I dropped everything and drove as fast as I could, a sinking feeling in my stomach. The ER staff smiled sadly and pointed me to a room somewhere downstairs. As I walked down a long, intimidating hallway, mom came out of a room. When she saw me she whispered through tears, “He’s gone Tricia. Dad’s gone.” In that moment, my world was irrevocably changed. Because I was uncommonly blessed with a loving, doting, very hands-on father, his passing left a huge whole in my heart and life.
It’s been over a quarter century now, yet Christmas always evokes that sadness of losing my dad. Memories tend to come flooding back, at times making the season bitter, yet ever more sweet. One came a few days ago as I pondered one of my favorite passages for the Advent season--Isaiah 9:6.
Dad bought me a Hershey bar (my favorite comfort food), and as we waited in the courtroom, I discovered that the paperwork proving my innocence had gone into the trash with the candy wrapper. Dad patted me on the knee, whispered that I could handle this, and left to try and retrieve it. I’ve often looked back on that experience and my sense of safety and security because of dad's presence, rare commodities in our world today.
This week as I’ve spent hours helping my brother in the hospital, shared emotionally at my dear friend’s Memorial service, and tried to manage all the pieces of life made more complex by the Christmas holidays, I’ve clung to these things, resting in their profound reality. This is the precious impact of Advent—to not only remember that Jesus has come, but that in His presence is everything I will ever need to live in this broken world.
MAKING ADVENT MEANINGFUL
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Tricia McCary Rhodes
Author of 7 books and a professor for Fuller Theological Seminary, Tricia specializes in helping others experience God’s presence through practicing soul-care.