December 2 is the First Sunday of Advent
I recently watched the 1990 documentary, "God Grew Tired of Us". With poignancy and power, it follows the lives of three of the Lost Boys of the Sudan who were resettled in the USA.
One was John Bul, a tall Dinka, who was placed with three other boys in an apartment in Syracuse. He had been a leader among the Lost Boys’ as they marched and as they lived in the refugee camp in Kenya.
His story is remarkable. He worked two and three jobs so he could send money back to both Kenya where his cohort of Lost Boys were living and to Uganda after he found his mother and sisters were living in a camp there. He graduated from high school and went onto college. He became a spokesman for the "Lost Boys" in America. His hope is to return to help rebuild a New Sudan.
One segment of the film in particular was striking to me....
The first year was hard and the boys had many questions.
About electricity, potato chips, trash removal and the apparent unfriendliness of Americans.
Then came December.
The boys watched a Christmas movie on television.
John Bul asked why his sponsors had put a small tree up in the apartment and what was the meaning of the tree and of "Santa"? Was "Santa" in the Bible?
The boys were taken to a shopping mall where they saw a huge Christmas tree and Santa in person. John Bul asked how does this relate to the birth of Jesus Christ?
Then the scene cut to an ice skating rink where some of the Lost Boys tried to skate.
John Bul said, "You have so many things to help you celebrate Christmas. It is good in the camp, too. We have to prepare for the birth of Jesus in our hearts. We have to prepare spiritually. We sing and dance. It is good."
As the film cut to show some of the Lost Boys riding bikes in the snow, I gulped.
And felt both confronted and challenged.
Advent. How can I prepare spiritually so that Christ can be born anew in my heart, my home and my ministry?
I took the DVD back to Blockbuster.
The question still lives with me.