At this moment in time, the 2022 Soccer World Cup is going on. Like the Olympics, the World Cup is an international gathering hosted by different countries around the world, every four years.
This World Cup, however, is different. Instead of being played in the summer months like normal, it is happening in December. This was an accommodation granted to the country of Qatar, who are the hosts. It is absolutely impossible to play multiple soccer games in the desert heat of a country like Qatar, so the tournament was moved.
Also like the Olympics, we see snapshots of fans from all over the world, cheering in the stands. As far as we can tell, everyone is getting along. There have been no riots or other symptoms of unrest, and people of different beliefs, religions and cultures are all getting along just fine. Commercials during the games show warm, cozy images of everyone getting along, painting a bright, loving picture.
So, this ornament is very appropriate for this moment in history. It shows us lots of beautiful children from all over the globe, holding hands and smiling up at us, content and happy.
There's just one problem, of course, and that is that the world, in general, is nothing like the lovely picture presented on tv or on the ornament. In fact, the whole reason for this ornament itself is to raise funds for children, many of which are not very happy at all. Unicef works to provide children with decent health care, water, nutrition and education.
Additionally, there have been many troubling reports surrounding the World Cup. Rumors and reports abound from the governing organization (FIFA) to the conditions of workers in the host country. This is not actually new; there seem to be problems and rumors around most World Cups.
But this ornament, nevertheless, is an important stop on the Advent journey because it points out one simple fact: the reason for our hope, Jesus. The great news, the cause of immense joy - yes, joy for the whole wide world, is that there is one coming who can actually deliver the promise of world peace, one who can overcome the sin in every country, in every person.
This ornament reminds us that we cannot save ourselves, regardless of how much wealth we have, how many fantastic buildings or stadiums we construct, how athletic we are, or even how artistic and creative we may be. As a race, humans have been trying to end hunger, cure disease, stop wars, educate the ignorant and respect workers since we first lifted our heads and contemplated something more. And we have not been able to do it.
As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, on the day of the Lord: "the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them... There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea." (Is 11: 6-9)
The promise of true peace portrayed on this ornament, that global events like the Olympics and the World Cup foreshadow; that day when we will truly see each other as sisters and brothers, has been announced as a definite event to come. That is the joy we hold on to.
This blog page is a slightly different type of Advent calendar. Using ornaments, Scripture and poetry for reflection, we journey through the 28 days of Advent 2022 to Christmas morning, and the Incarnation of Christ.