After the blur of fear and alien landscape of the early pandemic, 2022 has been blessed in its ordinariness for the van Loons. My job with the preschoolers at the large local baptist church is full tilt, camp and tours have begun again at the Durant house museum where I volunteer, Dan works mostly from home, but is teaching flute indoors again, and Will is involved with Young Life and after school clubs. Our church and small group are meeting in person and continue to challenge us to follow Jesus. Mom van Loon slips readily between her home here and extended visits with daughter Georgina in Texas. Grandkids are playing here weekly after their nature walk with a Fox Valley home school group. We went on a delightful three night 40th anniversary trip. We got grayer, had a disappointing state election and lost a few teeth. (And, yes, we finally all succumbed to COVID, but with no apparent long term effects and falling squarely between Will’s birthday and our anniversary so it interfered with neither.)
Approaching Advent then, I wondered, “What sort of reflection on this year and the Lord’s story?” For Mary and Joseph too, much of life was ordinary. Yes, there were crisis moments–a near divorce, birth in an overcrowded and unfamiliar town, the angels warning to flee to Egypt in the middle of the night. (These sound more like what those in Ukraine or Burkina Faso are experiencing, not us in Batavia!) There were the beautiful and holy moments too–angelic appearances, the magnificat, the shepherds’ amazing news, the prophecy of Simeon in the temple, the awe inspiring worship of the Magi. These we may have tastes of in our lives, but in smaller measure. Even for the holy family however, in between those moments were a lot of days of cooking, building, baking bread, paying taxes, sweeping, worshiping at the synagogue on Sabbath–days not recorded in scripture other than with a “it came to pass” or “Jesus grew…” And on each of these mundane days, the miracle of God visiting this planet in absolute humility was no less real.
How do we respond to a God who loves us so much that He wanted/wants to invade our mundane, broken world? Our individual and communal ordinariness?
With wonder and gratitude, with awe!
“That is why, behind all our fun and games at Christmastime, we should not try to escape a sense of awe, almost a sense of fright, at what God has done. We must never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem so long ago. Nothing can alter the fact that we live on a visited planet. We shall be celebrating no beautiful myth, no lovely piece of traditional folklore, but a solemn fact. God has been here once historically, but as millions will testify, he will come again with the same devastating humility into any human heart ready to receive him.”
–J. B. Phillips “The Dangers of Advent” from
Watch for the Light: Readings for Christmas and Advent
We are wishing you, then, a wonder-full Christmas and a new year alive with awe and gratitude–a gratitude for what the Lord has done that moves us to love, serve and proclaim to those around us, even in the ordinary.
With much love,
Maribeth, Dan and Willem
HERE IS A LINK to an album of the best days of this ordinary year, winter, spring, summer and fall–hikes and picnics, meals and birthdays, places and people, all loved. (We don’t have photos of laundry washed, beds made or time in front of the computer, but you get the idea.) If you click on a photo, you will see the caption. (Sorry for all the clicking required.)