Anna's Candles: Hope is like wanting a puppy!
“I want a puppy!”
Anna’s bare toes padded soft on the hardwood floor as she came through the dining room proclaiming her desire. Papa, warm in a flannel shirt, was fixing candles amidst a wreath atop the table. His strong arms stilled their effort, turning; he peered at Anna over spectacles he used for reading.
“Anna! What are doing out of bed my sweet?”
“Papa, I want a puppy!”
“Yes child. I heard.”
“Oh Papa, she is the most loveliest puppy! Mr. Ferguson said she was a cockroach panel. Mama and I spied her as we were heading to Maggie’s. I got the most beautiful dress; a blue velvet dress. Mama even got me white patented shoes to go with it.”
“Anna,” Papa bent his large frame to match the four-year-old frame of his daughter, “first, I think you mean a Cocker Spaniel…”
“That’s what I said,” Anna interjected, rocking back and forth on her tiny feet. “She is so pretty and perfect. I would take could care of her, might I have her?”
“A puppy is a big responsibility! Did you and Mama go into Ferguson’s Pet Store on your way to Maggie’s?”
“No Papa! Mr. Ferguson was sweeping leaves from the sidewalk when we passed by. He saw me looking at the puppy. We talked. Then Mama and Mr. Ferguson talked about what a great dog “Princess” would be for me.”
“That is what I would name her,” Anna’s eyes looked into Papa’s, pleading.
Papa opened his arms to Anna and she curved in, fitting perfectly. He lifted her up wrapping her in a warm embrace. He kissed her nose and eyelashes as was his custom, then squeezed her cheek next to his as they both closed their eyes.
“Anna, Mama and I will talk about the puppy. I am not sure you are quite old enough to take care of one. I am glad you got a new dress for the Christmas Program. I know you will be beautiful!”
They both opened their eyes. Papa put a steading hand on the small of Anna’s back as their foreheads came together.
“Can I show you something?” Papa turned Anna’s gaze toward the table where he had been working.
“What is it, Papa?”
“It’s called an Advent Wreath.”
“What’s an Advent Wreath?”
“Anna, who was born on Christmas?”
“Yes, and what did Jesus do for us?”
“He died for us, Papa.”
“That’s right Anna! Well, Advent is a special tradition we do to remember that Jesus came. It also is in celebration and hope of his coming again. The definition of advent means ‘coming’ or ‘waiting’. There are three purple candles, one pink candle, and one white candle.”
“What do the colors mean, Papa?”
Papa smiled at the child, ruffling her curls. “How would you like take part in Advent with me and Mama?”
“Can I?” Anna was timid and all aglow at the prospect of being a part of something so special.
“Of course you can,” came the mild sure voice of Mama. She slid her hand in the crook of Papa’s arm, while stroking Anna’s cherub face with the other.
Papa finished setting the candles into the wreath. He had Anna hold his hand as he lit the first candle. Mama turned the lights off so the only illumed light was from the fragile flame. Papa prayed, thanking Jesus for coming to the Earth, for giving them hope, a new name, and a promise to come. They sang carols and Papa read from his large weathered Bible.
“Just as you hope for Princess, we hope for Jesus. It is the same feeling of excitement, desire, and need. Do you understand?”
“The wonderful thing is that Jesus desires us just as much as we desire Him. He hopes to talk with us. He hopes to spend time with us. He hopes for the day we will be in Heaven with Him.”
“I love Jesus so much, Papa!”
“Me too Anna…me too!
Now, you need to get off to bed little one.” Papa leaned in and kissed her soft cheek.
“I love you Anna!”
“I love you too, Papa!”
Anna took Mama’s hand, singing as she headed off to bed:
Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…
…I have been contemplating the fall (see Genesis 3). I have been thinking what it must have been like to walk and talk intimately with God? How it must have been to feel no shame?
Can you imagine what it must have been like to have that intimacy ripped from you? All of it stripped bare and blistered - a scorch of sin that ran palpably deep.
I have been trying to see it from God’s point of view. What He must have felt? While complete as the triune God, I wonder if He longed for the cool of the evening walking the rich sod of Eden with Adam and Eve. In His Omnipresence, did he see his plan begin to unfold?
The bud of hope begins to stretch itself in bloom. He spent the remainder of the Bible getting back to us, making a way where He might have intimacy with us!
The first Sunday of Advent is the Prophecy or Hope Candle. God is prophetic in all He does. There are no accidents.
As we hope for Him. As we are thankful for Immanuel (God with us), let us remember His hope for us. His hopes to be our God, to shelter us in His mighty wings, to comfort us, restore us, and have intimacy with us.
Oh, this great HOPE of Christ! Thank you Jesus, again and again!
“Behold, I send My messenger, and He will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom I delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts. – Malachi 3:1