- Sonya Leigh Anderson
The Dream of God. Three years ago it was the last paper I wrote for my seminary class, just before we made the decision to pursue adoption. Shalom is God’s dream and the mission of Jesus. Our mission, too. It’s what I’ve been thinking about most this Christmas season. Near to obsession. The only thing that makes any sense of all this mess. It’s Shalom or nothing.
Nothing missing, nothing broken, and we are desperately broken people, every one of us. Some of us so broken by life we wonder if our hearts will ever beat normal again. Some of us second-hand broken, trying to make sense of it all.
It was my baby brother’s birthday this week, and all day Monday I carried an ache in my chest in honor of him. Wondering where he’s sleeping and what he’s thinking and whether I’ll ever see him again.
Two days later there’s this awful news breaking through email and Twitter and text. Breaking news of a boy gone and a mom broken, and that night I’m wide-awake crying for God to hold us tight. We are desperately fragile, are we not?
At the grocery store I run into another mom, and there in the aisle I put pieces of her story together. A husband with cancer and two boys fighting addiction. And I’m struck by her faith in the face of such struggle.
Nothing missing, nothing broken. I told the story again as we lit Advent candles last Sunday. It was just five of us around the table this time. Teen boys full of distraction, but apparently listening between random comments and sporadic attention. Week two is the candle of Peace – not peace the way we think of it, but the peace of Shalom. It’s the miracle that brought our family together. I tell our story and I read the text:
“…He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” (Luke 4:18)
When I’m finished, it’s Felipe who comments, and I know he gets it. Shalom is a miracle, and good news for him.
Friday night Andi and Elliot came for dinner, thinking who-knows-what of our holy Christmas, and I was amazed at their courage. These two who have every reason to be on their guard when it comes to those who tout religion, and this home and this family are steeped in it. But they stayed five full hours and it was Felipe leading every conversation. He covered the gamut. Soccer and gaming and Netflix, and long-winded stories about the drug cartel. And then he switched gears, asking questions for his World View project, diving headfirst into this taboo topic. There we were, the devout and the skeptic, all of us being honest about faith and doubt, and it was the best conversation I’ve enjoyed in a while. We’re all God-seekers, and we’re all of us broken. All of us needy. Needing Shalom.
It was almost midnight, and I was still in the kitchen mixing gingerbread dough, Andi and Elliot just heading home. I shook my head thinking about what a crazy amazing night we’d had, and how God works in the most surprising ways. And it felt like a dream. The dream of Shalom.