“A winter storm in November? Before Thanksgiving? It seemed too soon for cold and snow” I thought to myself as I headed into the parking lot toward my car. A co-worker was walking slightly ahead of me wearing a hooded sweatshirt and telling me how he was not going to purchase a coat for himself, money was tight and food on the table was more important.
“You need a coat, what if your vehicle broke down and you had to walk to get help, buy yourself a coat.”
“No, not this year, I will be fine.”
I got into my car and remember when a friend gave me her coat. I had a coat…but it was not warm enough or long enough. My friend gave me her long black coat with a hood. It was not just any coat, but a nice wool, beautiful coat. I still wear today. I thought that I had only received a coat but….Not only was this coat a gift to me but it would a gift to someone else also. I turned the key in the ignition and pulled out to buy some candles for advent. In my head I heard in a small quiet voice, “Buy him a coat.”
Target was not busy because of the snow storm everyone must be sitting at home. Not me! Advent candles were important and one week left, I was on a mission. Target had nothing. Santa’s, snowmen, stars…no advent anything. Ugh! Meijer was the same, I could not even find a manger scene. I did find the word H. O. P. E on gold lettering dangling from a string.
The winter storm did not bother me in my four wheel drive GMC. I had no problem driving all the way to Baker Books on 28th and East Paris, an out of the way trip. I was sure advent would be swimming all over the store.
“I hope they are opened in this wicked snow.” I thought
I walked into the book store as the sole customer, and immediately became distracted by pictures in my head of the used book section. I beelined it to the back of the store where I Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems was displayed on the end cap. Ohhh, I opened the book to page 75, We Seem To Forget.
What Concerns me
what lies on m heart
That we the church
papered and programmed
Articulate and agenda-ed
are telling the faith story
are telling it as though it happened two thousand
or is going to happen
as soon as the church budget is raised
We seem to forget that Christ’s name is Emmanuel
God with Us,
Not just when he sat among us
when we cannot feel the nail prints in his hands.
Ann’s beautiful poem was so wonderful. Now…the Christ with us, now. Then I remembered the advent candles. I tucked Ann’s treasure of Christmas poems in the crook of my arm and looked for advent candles. There were only a few advent special features on the tiered round table by the front door. I found a box of just plain white candles with a manger scene for a holder, the only one.
Finished with my task I carefully drove toward home. I was excited to beginning reading the poems. Then in my head I heard, “Buy him a coat.”
Oh yes, buy him a coat, but where? Target? I was just there and never looked for a coat. This should be convenient. Target had no men’s coats. Ridiculous, I thought. Meijer next door had coats, but not in the size of 2x. Walmart!
Walmart had one 2x coat that looked just like the one my co-worker had before the fire. They lost everything when their house was burned to the ground. I purchase the coat hoping that it fit him and drove home. I was too tired to read the poems or open the Advent surprise to help me get ready for the hope of Christmas.
I could not wait to give the coat. The next morning I was excited to go to work so that I could give the coat. I laid the coat out on his desk and waited for him to come in. As he put his arms in, he said, “I usually wear a 3x or 4x.” and then the next arm, and the zipper.
“It fits perfect, I guess I buy coats that are too big.”
Wow, I wondered, If I had knew his size I would not have purchased the coat that fit him perfectly. I suspected that it was possible that he would someday be asked to buy someone a coat.
I thought of poem,
God with Us,
Not just when he sat among us
Although the candles were important….and the poems were fun, practicing hope by listening to the quiet voice is the real Advent of God with Us Now