holiday greetings from barranquilla


So this is Christmas…

No snow. No peppermint hot cocoa. No “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” stuck in my head. It doesn’t feel like Christmas, I whispered to my journal.

And yet I’ve never felt more excited for Christmas.

This year, removed from the usual cues that spark my “holiday spirit,” I found Advent. I found space to remember the events leading up to Jesus’ birth, to marvel at the complexities surrounding its simplicity, to breathe.

This year, within the space of Advent, I feel a sense of urgency for the Word-made-flesh. Some of you know about El Tamarindo, a community I’ve come to care about. El Tamarindo consisted of internally displaced persons who began to be unlawfully evicted just a couple of weeks ago. The families have been harassed and mistreated by local authorities and elites for years. And now they’ve been forced to relocate.

But I’ve come to know El Tamarindo as more than “victims.” They are lovers, storytellers, coffee addicts, playmates, workers of the field. Yes, they must hold unspeakable pain and trauma in their hearts and minds; who can forget the fear of being forced to flee or the desolation of seeing their house destroyed? Yet they continue to live. They continue to laugh, to share, to give really good hugs – extending the hand of God even to outsiders like me.

This year, I feel a small sense of the vindication Mary must have felt when she sang, “God has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” And the joy the shepherds must have felt as they hurried to find the Savior. And the deep peace Simeon must have felt when he finally saw Jesus.

So this is Christmas. It feels strange. Partly because it’s still 85ºF outside, and I haven’t decorated a single gingerbread house or human. But mostly because for the first time in a long time, I am excited for Jesus.

May your Christmas week be filled with joy & wonder as you celebrate the birth of our Messiah! You are beloved.


In El Pueblo, the neighborhood I visit on Wednesdays for Bible study and fellowship. In November we celebrated the birthdays of 3 long-time community members.


Thanksgiving dinner with my team (Alex, Emily & Sarah our fearless leader)! Grateful for the 10 days we shared together in Bogotá to rest, debrief, join different conversations on peacebuilding, and explore the nation’s capital.


My host family (Jonathan, Jennifer, Ignacio, Stephanie & Marta; not pictured: Marta Lucia). Their hospitality and generosity are daily extensions of grace.


One thought on “holiday greetings from barranquilla

  1. Sophia, this a beautiful reflection. I’m stuck by how powerfully you’re seeing Jesus come into this world this Christmas time. Thank you for writing this. Blessings!

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