The Hide and Seek of Advent and Christmas

The other day my youngest child Sarah was trying to play Hide and Seek with my wife. It was so hilarious! She doesn’t play by the usual rules all the time. On this occasion she actually TOLD her mother that she was supposed to hide in the office closet while she (Sarah) counted. Now, my wife, being the trickster that she is, decided to hide behind the door instead. After she counted, Sarah came in with her eyes twinkling, asking the questions “Where could she be? Has anyone seen Mommy?” as she looked under the desk and behind the chair and around the corner… And then finally, with gleeful expectation, she yanked open the door to the closet and shouted “There you are!” – only to be heartbroken when her mother wasn’t there. She burst out crying and her mother had to come out of hiding to console her. As soon as she calmed down enough, Mother agreed to play by the “rules”. Leaving nothing to chance, this time Sarah took her mother by the hand, led her to the closet, shoved her in, and closed the door. Now everything was happy again as she went in the other room, counted to ten and once again went through the motions of looking for – and finally FINDING her mother RIGHT where she knew her to be.

Sometimes I wonder about Advent and Christmas. Why such silliness? Sometimes I (frankly) get tired of it. “Preparing” for the Christ Child to be born? Preparing for our King to come? A game that we know the end of. So why play it?

But then I think of what the rest of life is and the games we play with it. They are games we really don’t know the end of. They are risky. They are often scary. Chaotic. They end in tragedy.

How refreshing and wonderful it is, then, to participate in an ancient Hide and Seek of Advent and Christmas: the “playing” out of history, the re-“playing” out of the story of salvation, the story that we know so well. We know that we will find Jesus in the manger and this brings us peace and joy in our lives. We KNOW that we will not be disappointed at the end of our search. Salvation is indeed right in the midst of us!

Just as we know these things even before we start “playing”, we also know what it all means: that we ourselves will be found – hiding in the shelter of the Most High God. And, oh, yes! There will be one who will NOT be able to find us: The Devil!

And so we giggle and laugh in heavenly glee! Praise be to our Lord and Incarnate Savior Jesus.

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