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ADVENT DEVOTION: Friday, December 25, 2020

A Sanctuary With Wings

By Jessie Horton

This Advent Season, it’s been a difficult task to forage for pockets of Sanctuary within the “exile” that 2020 has been. Not only has a pandemic ravaged the entire world, so has political strife, an economic collapse devastating millions for years to come, and the personal losses each family circle has had to suffer alone this season. However, it’s vital we still seek the Messiah every day of Advent, however we can manage.

For my family, spotting a red-bellied cardinal has always been the most simple and effective method of finding Sanctuary. Cardinals were my late great grandmother’s favorite animal and reflected the eloquence and sophistication in her educated and loving spirit. In the Peck-Horton family, cardinals are a sign of family, reassurance, and God.

Due to social distancing requirements to keep my grandparents safe, I have not been able to see my grandmother, Elwa’s daughter, or my grandfather this Christmas. With these restrictions, Christmas has come up a little late —the holiday music stations aren’t playing yet and the trees aren’t dressed with shimmering ornaments that remind us of the past Advent seasons. I would think most families are like ours, and focusing on the survival of the current “Babylon” that we are trapped in.

However, just when Sanctuary is forgotten, Christmas is rendered as impossible, and I wonder when Emmanuel will come and salvage 2020, the Advent calendar I ordered online two weeks ago arrives on my porch. None other than a pattern of softly snow-blanketed, watercolor cardinals with scarlet coats piercing the frost, spread across the front….Elwa! This Advent, I am not alone. The “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments will come up, Dolly Parton will sing “Silent Night,” our family will gather whether on a screen or a distanced outdoor event, and the Messiah will come. In fact, He comes to us in little pieces unexpectedly every day. Little pieces like cardinals, proving that Elwa will be here this Christmas, and so will Jesus, coming to carve our Sanctuary in cardinal calendars, or a manger.

I challenge you, as I’ve challenged myself, to keep a close eye out for the “cardinals” of your world this Advent, so we can discover the Sanctuary God has curated for us and follow the path to the Savior that indeed is coming. And always will, just like cardinals will always fly.

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