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by Antonio Gallardo

Every time that the Advent season starts I can’t avoid thinking about this time of the year while I was growing up in Venezuela. On a day like today –December 1st — all the traditions to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s started.  Every house got a new coat of paint, decorations were all over the city on houses, streets, and buildings. 

People started to think about the new clothes that they will wear for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and the dishes that you can only enjoy during this time of the year: pan de jamón, hallacas, ponche crema (click on link to learn more about them).

Among these traditions, there is one tradition that I will never forget: Waiting for “baby Jesus” to bring me Christmas presents.

Yes, you read it right, it was baby Jesus, and not Santa Claus, the one who brought presents to the children.  The process was about the same: I wrote a letter to baby Jesus asking what I wanted, gave the letter to my parents for delivery, and right there, without fail, on Christmas morning the gifts were under my bed (and not under a Christmas tree).  So, there was no Santa Claus, and there was no Christmas tree at home; there was baby Jesus, and there was a Nativity set as a center piece in our living room.

This Advent season I would like to reconnect with the inner child in me that connected with baby Jesus. I need to do that because, with the challenges that this world is presenting to all of us, I would like to fully enjoy this Advent season as I did when I was a child.   This way, I will have the open mind and the willingness to take risks that a child has, so that I can be an instrument in the fight to protect the rights of the most vulnerable, joining God wherever God is already doing the work.

I will create the environment in my home to fully enjoy the season, I will reflect upon the scriptures of the seasons to learn where God is leading me to think and act, and I will reflect upon the most powerful image for me this season, the image of baby Jesus laying in a manger as portrayed in Luke 2:7.

I will ask baby Jesus to bring me this Christmas peace of mind, openness of heart, and a renewed sense for justice.

During the Season of Advent, we will offer daily meditations from All Saints Church. Today’s is written by Antonio Gallardo, Pastor for Latino Ministries.
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