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Airplane crashes, Advent, and the birth of Jesus

by davesandel on December 19th, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 19, 2021                     (today’s lectionary)

Airplane crashes, Advent, and the birth of Jesus

From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord, his God. He shall be peace.

Brant and Carolyn Hansen’s very young son Justice loved to watch the garbage trucks go by. One of his first words was “Dumpster! Dumpster!” His parents tracked down an hour long video of trucks moving trash around at their dump. Big piles! Justice loved it, his eyes got big, he couldn’t look away! Occasionally he got his hands on a white garbage bag full of … garbage …  and pulled it into the living room. Smiling from ear to ear.

O Lord of hosts, look down from heaven and take care of this vine. Protect what your right hand has planted, the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

Miles has graduated from garbage (which, like Justice, Jasper still LOVES, by the way) to fire fighters and airplane crashes. His favorite Hoopla book, which he asks me to read whenever he gets the chance, is Examining Airplane Crashes.

We put the kiddos to bed on Friday night, while Andi and Aki spent time with friends and missionaries at church. I read The Night of Las Posadas first, and then we moved on. and looked at the birdstrike-caused crash in the book: you know, where Capt. Sullenberger landed his plane in the Hudson River and everyone was rescued after they climbed out of the plane onto the wings? Wow, what a story!

But our story was pretty good too. We turned out the lights, most of them, and closed our eyes. Once upon a time …

A young boy named Miles was going on a plane ride, and he wondered if the plane would crash, so he chose a seat by the emergency exit, and the stewardess brought another young boy to sit by him. “What’s your name?” Miles asked.

“My name is Jasper,” the other boy said.

What a coincidence!

The pilot warned the passengers there would be turbulence, but they would climb to 33,000 feet and try to get away from it. Miles was excited. Then the stewardess brought each of the boys parachutes and showed them how to put them on. If they had to jump the parachutes would open automatically.

Well, you can imagine! There was turbulence, and the pilot told them to open the emergency doors and jump out, and they did. And Miles’ mom and Jasper’s dad, who were also on the plane, caught up with them in the air and they landed in a wheat field and sat on the ground for a little while, catching their breath. And then, because it was about noon, everyone took a nap.

The End.

When Christ came into the world, he said, “As is written of me, behold, I come to do your will, O God.”

Brant had a point in Unoffendable when he talked about Justice and the Garbage – that we hold onto our garbage too, and won’t let it go even when God has something better for us!

What was the point of our story, Miles and me? Hmmmm. I’m thinking about that.

Well, Advent is about to be over, and it will drop us all into the wheat field of Christmas, and it will be time to get into the manger with Jesus and take a nap?

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus). And how does this happen to me?

Jesus is coming, the manger is ready, the wheat field is ripe and soft and ready for emergency landings of every kind. Here’s something G. K. Chesterton said: “For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment.”

He said that in a book he titled Heretics. And in that same book, he also said, “Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.”

Why does Miles want to read that book about airplane crashes? Assurance? Doesn’t make sense to me. But maybe he is developing trust, around the edges, under the surface, without being aware of it. Trusting an airplane is one thing, trusting his family is another thing, but trusting God is the main thing.

“The virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment.” You can’t pretend either hope or trust, but in ways beyond our ken, God cultivates those virtues in us. In Miles, in Jasper, in Aki and Andi, in Margaret and I …

Our preparation is coming to an end. Advent is closing its curtains, Christmas is standing in the wings, ready to dance onto the stage. And we are learning, mostly without even knowing it, how to hope and trust in God.

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

(Micah 5, Psalm 80, Hebrews 10, Luke 1)

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