As I get older, I find myself rediscovering my boyhood wonder of Christmas which I had lost sight of in my twenties. This year everything about the season seemed to send tingles of joy through me. The smell of the pine tree in my LA apartment, the warmth of hot apple cider, family photo greeting cards from friends I have not seen in months, the music, and even the cold weather. But I suppose the real sense of wonder is due to the miracle of God’s gifts that I have suddenly opened my eyes to. In reflecting on the miraculous birth of our savor, I have also begun to take notice of the daily miracles that have unfolded around over the last few months.
When I packed my bags and departed from New York City in the spring of 2009, I never dreamed that I would one day actually call Los Angeles my home. But then again, such is life. When you least expect it, you come to a bend in the road that changes your life forever! This has been a year of both challenges and surprises. For every tear I shed, I have found joy waiting for me at the end. Since my ordination in the summer, our ministry has multiplied and forced me to step up. There were months I felt the weight of the plight of my orphan siblings in India, or the struggles of some of my friends in Westwood. After more postponing of my wedding date due to immigration issues, I felt the rug pulled under me one too many times.
But then came December- the month that began with a miracle and began the motion of other miracles. On the first day of this month, I played a part in baptizing a dear friend who over the last few months had risen above some dark times, and accepted Jesus into her heart after 42 years of Islamic faith. It was surreal to stand with her in the Pacific Ocean with Dustin and Nichole and say those words that had moved me to tears at my own baptism almost 18 years ago, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” I decided that there is nothing more profound than I can ever do with my life.
Following our friend, Dove’s baptism, I boarded the plane to the east coast. Not even the invasive pat down at the check point could rob me of my joy. I spent the next two weeks in a humbling position meeting people close to me in New York, and the South, telling them of my call to ministry and asking them to join me in this adventurous journey. As I shared my story over and over again I felt the renewed sense of call join God in the renewal of all things through my life.
It was a Christmas gift in itself to eat my mother’s home cooking, and have full conversations with my wonderful toddler God-daughters, Anna and Raney, the joys of my life. One of the highlights of my trip was a reunion in New Bern NC, with a college teacher after 8 years and experienced a unique soul connection and friendship. The best miracle of all came in the form of a phone call from my fiancée Angel at 2AM one morning. With emotional excitement, she gave me the news that her visa had finally been granted. Almost four years later, the waiting has come to an end… At the early hours of the morning in my parents’ house, I viewed the idea of Hope in new light.
I spent a meaningful Christmas back in Los Angles with a band of brothers with a heart so full of thanks and anticipation for the year ahead. Tomorrow morning, I will enjoy another miracle. After months of taxing my body, I will finally detach from my phone and my work for a couple of days and take a much needed rest as I load up my jeep for a road trip with my roommate. Rejuvenation awaits…