Lebanon #2: Advent

by Julie Burgess, for the team

“On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him.” (Luke 9:37)

Most of our team has arrived; Kate’s delayed flight delivered her up to the conference center about three hours ago and Susan W. will be here in the next two. It will be good to be a whole team, but the work proceeded apace without all of us in place on this day.

On this day when there was no program until 6:00 p.m., I offered to write the blog because I knew I could find the theological meaning, the God-sighting as they say in VBS back home, in this day of preparation. It was given to me in worship on Sunday as Dr. George Sabra, president of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut and our preacher in the Presbyterian Church in Dhour Chouier, preached on the passage of the transfiguration of Jesus. With God announcing that this Jesus is his beloved son, Jesus shines with the glory of God in front of the disciples. What a holy moment it must have been! The disciples want it to go on forever, but on the mountain is not where the ministry of Jesus is to be found. It is the descending of the mountain to be in the midst of the people that God will be glorified through this ministry.

So even though we are up in the mountains, we are participating in this great work of ministry by joining actively in this wonderful women’s conference. It began this evening in worship, but we needed to prepare.

Advent. It is the season of preparation for the coming of the Light of the World. We sing. We decorate. We wrap gifts. We light candles. We prepare our hearts to receive this great gift of the incarnation. And that is what we did on this beautiful day.

We sang: Dr. Emily Brink led us through worship songs that we will lead worship with when it is our turn. We are a choir!

We decorated: One group headed to the conference room to pink up the place with hearts and flowers. Pink is the color we chose to represent our lives as women for this year and pink is everywhere!

We wrapped gifts: Part of our team bagged up little candies and bracelets for insertion into the gift bags that have become a tradition on our visits. They joined coloring books, pencils, and other assorted pink goodies.

We lit candles: Okay, not really, but we have an awesome craft project of decorating glass ornaments that will reflect the light.

We prepared our hearts to receive the gift of a community of sisters coming from parts of Lebanon and all over Syria. And the gift of 85 women arrived over the course of the afternoon in cars and taxis and buses, our Syrian sisters traveling for up to fourteen hours with very long waits at the border. The body has gathered, and we came down the mountain to be with the people to participate in the work of God for his glory.

Amen and amen.