Photo of the little girl "conducting" the orchestra.
The little sweet conductor. Excuse the quality; it was a covert iPhone shot.

Every Christmas season, we love to go to Disney World to see the Christmas decorations and enjoy the holiday shows. My absolute favorite of those shows is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. In the middle of the most magical and probably most capitalistic place on Earth, a celebrity narrator reads the story of Christmas from the book of Luke. In between the reading, there are Christmas hymns with a choir including a living Christmas tree and an orchestra complete with the excitement of heraldry trumpets and the majesty of French horns. This evening our narrator was Whoopi Goldberg and I swear, I thought we were about to see Sister Act 3 live on stage.

Seated three rows in front of us, is a family with a small child – a toddler. The mother is holding the little girl up so that she can see over the heads of the crowd. Every time the music starts, she begins waving her hands like the conductor. This kid is a show stealer; you can hear everyone giggle with joy as this little one conducts her orchestra. As the music crescendos, she raises her hands up towards the heavens as high as she can stretch them as if to hold those high notes up as an offering.

This past Sunday began a week of hope for Christians. It is the beginning of the Christian year, the first Sunday of Advent, which is marked by hope.

Advent starts before the celebration. It is before angels sing glad tidings and great joy. The world did not know the gift it was about to receive that first Christmas.

Joseph and his 9-month pregnant bride Mary, along with the rest of the nation of Israel were preparing to travel across the country by foot and by beast of burden. Their travel plans were not for holiday festivities, but because an oppressive foreign government wanted to have a census count of the people who they were ruling over. Advent began at the start of tax season.

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down…
Isaiah 64:1

Around the world, this past Sunday, thousands of churches opened their Advent readings with that verse. When I read it, my soul leapt. It may not sound like a statement of hope, but this, this is how I feel. Not hopeless. Bruised, yes. Beaten, yes. But with a seed of hope. Hope that God would tear open the veil of heaven to water that seed.

Losing our daughter this year has been the darkest period of my life. Never have I been in a season where I had such need of hope.

Last Saturday, we sat in the middle of a theme park listening to the Greatest Story Ever Told, the Good News, the very story of hope. As that little girl again raised her hands skyward in child-like worship with the enthusiasm of a virtuoso conductor, April leaned over to me and said, “that baby gets it.”

I whispered back, “our baby gets it too.”

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13

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