I hadn't expected to cry at church this morning.
Actually, I was looking forward to an uplifting service about the Christmas story and the wise men and the manger and the star of Bethlehem. You know, all very familiar and Christmas-week-worthy topics to preach on. Our service today was quite unusual. And, as effective as it was at teaching me about fear and our need for God's protection, it was something simple that happened as I walked into church that had such a huge impact on me.
As Keith and the boys and I made our way along the winding sidewalk to the entrance to the children's section, a family of 6 walked in just before us. A Mom and Dad with 3 children most likely biological and 3 of varying ages that looked to be of Ethiopian heritage. The oldest, a tall lanky teenager, carried a tattered Bible in his left hand as he reached to open the door for us with his right. His smile would light up a room and he was definitely not short on manners. He interacted with his younger siblings--both by blood and adoption--with the familiar banter of any typical American family.
It warmed my heart.
And then, when we began to sing a familiar Christmas carol during the service, I thought about our close friends and their quest to bring home two children from Ethiopia. The acoustic strains of Silent Night playing softly in the background allowed my thoughts to drift off to a foreign country where a girl named Mary--age 9-- and a boy nicknamed Mel--age 6--are going about their daily routine...most likely unaware of how their lives will change in a matter of months. For across an ocean awaits a home filled with warmth and love, parents whose hearts are open wide with anticipation and a little brother who, at 17 months is barely speaking, utters their names with a grin and a giggle.
Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, I was overcome with emotion. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I imagined Mary and Mel along with David, Amy and Isaac, sitting in a similar church service next Christmas...a family of five born of prayer, persistence and more than a healthy dose of divine intervention. Christmas being such a time of family and fellowship, I couldn't help but compare it to my own adoption journey and the pain I felt the Christmas before we brought Daniel home. We had his picture on our refrigerator just like David and Amy have their's posted. And in those quiet times...those Silent Nights...when all seems at peace, I imagine the Watsons yearn to share the magic of this holiday with their soon-to-be children on the other side of the globe.
And before you know it, they will.
Because pretty soon, there will be a family of five with a range of beautiful skin colors walking together into church like they had never been apart and two more orphans will experience the warmth and acceptance that only a family can offer. It may be a long time before my friends have a true "silent night" with a house full of children...but those nights will certainly be a little sweeter and, more importantly, filled with an overflowing abundance of love.
Merry Christmas Mary and Mel. We can't wait to meet you.