Friday Night, December 11th
(Nope, the video above isn't mine, but it was similar to what I describe below)
I'm at PDX - the airport - writing tonight while I wait for Amanda to come home from college for Christmas break. I ended up being here a bit early, so I'm waiting for Amanda where people walk by security after they get off their planes. It's kind of cool to watch people as they arrive. Most arrivals around Christmas are very joyful.
- A young soldier just walked through security, met by a happy young wife and two excited children who look too young to really understand what's happening. All they know is that they get to cling to a dad who's been gone for too long.
- A woman just arrived and was met by her pregnant sister. They hug and the happy future aunt bends over to kiss her sister's protruding tummy. They smile and laugh. Towering over them, in the background, is the soon-to-be dad. He gazes at his growing family with great content.
- Then there's the grandfather who has been trying to corral his three small grandkids for about 45 minutes. It isn't working and his patience is just about gone. These little monsters have been running around the rows of chairs. They're all ready for momma to get back from a five day trip to somewhere. When she arrives, they sprint to her shouting, "Mamma! You're home! You're back!" Grandad gets the last hug, but no one is happier to see mamma home than he.
I've noticed that romantic welcome-home hugs are long and close; often silent - as if it's finally time for a melding of flesh and hearts. Friend hugs are shorter and people often sway from side to side while talking. Women hold the hugee's face in their hands and step back to take a look at that face. Men may give each other a hug, but men's hugs include hearty slaps on the back.
Joy seems to be the one constant in each of these reunions.
Zephaniah. When's the last time you thought to yourself, "Hey, I think I'll brush up on the old book by Zeph today!" Can you even think of the last time you read anything from this "minor prophet?" Twelve prophets in the Old Testament are called "minor prophets" not because they are less important but because they are simply shorter books. So why don't we read old Zeph more often? Well, it might be because he delivered mostly bad news. And although we seem to love bad news at 6 & 11 PM, we don't like it in the bible. We want "gospel" (good news).
Tucked into the last chapter of all the bad news Zephaniah delivers is, at last, some good news. More than that, it's Joy. Promises that the story won't have a terrible, downer ending. But that God will do what God always does - turn the saddest, most disappointing story into a very joy filled reunion with his people. Joy is what we'll consider in the message this 3rd Sunday of Advent.