Editor's note: "Unmasking Advent: the arrival of a Savior in our lives" is a sampling of biblical meditations composed by members of the Concordia University Wisconsin community. It is our prayer that you will take time during the Advent season to read and reflect upon God's Word and await the coming of Jesus with newfound anticipation and zeal through the Holy Spirit.

Enjoy life with the One you love

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

Only a pandemic could prevent my sister from coming home for Christmas. From wherever she hails, and over the decades that has included Japan, Turkey, Scotland, Mexico, Spain, Poland, and currently, Massachusetts, she conquers weather, strikes, work demands, date lines, and time zones to be with family at Christmas.

She’s married now and has two sons. They all accept this annual pilgrimage to Wisconsin as non-negotiable. Accompanying them has been an international cast of characters. Some spoke great English, and many spoke no English. They grew up celebrating the birth of Jesus, or they arrived curious about our faith. We became adept at incorporating their traditions into our own family rituals, and we savored sharing the Christmas story with them.

Many things need translation, but around my family table, joy is universal. So, too, are sloppy joes. “Spanish hamburgers,” as my dad calls them, is the dish that welcomes travelers from near and far home for a noisy, crowded, sleepless visit. This simple dish is shorthand for “Welcome friends, we’re so glad you’re here. Stay as long as you like. We anticipated your arrival, and we hope you’re comfortable.” If you speak any crock pot language, you’re familiar with this translation.

Because of COVID-19, my sister and her family might not make it this year. For once, there could be enough beds, enough chairs, and enough bathrooms to accommodate everyone comfortably. We might even fit in one car for church. While much will be different, nothing real will change. The reason we gather with such joy in our hearts is because a Child will soon be born. While I’m not preparing for my sister, I’ll still pull out the crock pot and set the Christmas table in anticipation of His arrival.

With full crock pot hospitality, I welcome you to this beloved Concordia University Advent anthology. I can’t fix you a sandwich, but I assure you we’re so very glad you’re here. Stay as long as you like. We have anticipated your arrival, and we hope you’re comfortable.

LISA LILJEGREN serves as the Assistant Vice President of Strategic Communications and has been with the university since 2012.

View a full schedule of “An uncommon Advent” readings here.

Unmasking Advent is also available for purchase in hard-copy form. Each booklet costs $5. All net proceeds will support Concordia’s “Living Water” campaign through Water to Thrive, an effort to create a sustainable clean water source for a community in Africa. Click here to purchase a booklet. If you wish to make a direct, tax-deductible gift to the Living Water campaign, click here.

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