In an instant, my resin flocked Koala bear figurine was transformed: accidently knocked off my dresser and crushed beneath my cousin’s feet while we played.
Tearfully, I scooped up the pieces and brought them to my Pop Pop. He gave me a hug. “I can’t fix this, Jen. The pieces are too small. Look—some have turned to dust.”
I cried louder. Pop took pity. “I’ll fix it.”
Comforted, I waited expectantly for the return of my Koala…at first. But in typical kid-manner, before long I forgot about it.
A month or so later, my grandparents came to visit and I was surprised when Pop Pop handed me my transformed Koala. The poor Koala was in one piece but it most definitely was not the figurine it used to be: it was patched together and disfigured, the hardened and lumpy putty patching my grandfather made was not a perfect color match, and there was no velvety flocking where the patches were. I pray my disappointment did not show in my face as I politely said, “thank you,” and took the Koala to my room.
Later that day I overheard my grandma talking to my mom. “He stayed up for nights sweating bullets over that crazy bear,” she said. I was instantly both humbled and excited to realize that Pop Pop would sweat and lose sleep just for me.
The Koala was once again transformed into one of my most beloved possessions. I was transformed too. My Pop Pop’s sweat worked like streams in the desert of my life. He kept his promise and did his best for me, even when I didn’t really care. I knew that I was loved.
I love the season of advent when we look forward to Christmas, celebrating Christ’s first coming and reminding ourselves that Christ is coming again—indeed He comes to us continually. With Isaiah, I am filled with vision and hope as I anticipate the blooming of the desert, the strengthening of the weak, and the everlasting joy and gladness that will come to God’s people as they travel on “The Holy Way” (chapter 35). Oh, what transformation the people of Israel hoped for and oh, what transformation is to come!
At the same time, we live in a world experiencing constant transformation. Sometimes transformation is expected and welcomed. We watch it unfold like spring or healing after a long illness: the blooming of the desert. Other times we watch with horror as transformation comes, like when hurricane Haiyan stormed through the Philippines. In the aftermath of such tragedy or injustice, there are times when we, like Nelson Mandela, are challenged to notice and work toward transformation. I once heard someone say, “It’s wonderful to watch a miracle unfold, but it’s even better to help a miracle unfold.”
Mary and Elizabeth helped their miracles unfold. As I live in the “already and not yet” of this advent season, I am inspired by the gospel of Luke’s portrayal of these miracle-bearing cousins. Though I am sure their lives were not easy, the courage and faith of Mary and Elizabeth remind me that I am humbled and called and blessed to participate in the already and not yet plan of God. With Isaiah, Mary, and Elizabeth, I look forward to the transformation promised in fulfillment of what was spoken by the Lord. I also wonder how God might be calling me and others in Franconia Conference to participate in the miracle of transformation in our relationships, community, or world.
I pray I will not get so caught up in the busy-ness of life that I forget to keep my baptismal promise as Christ’s disciple to convey the life and love of Jesus—Immanuel, God with us. May I, like my Pop Pop, help the miracle of transformation unfold by sharing God’s love in simple and practical ways with hearts that may not even be fully aware they are waiting.