We wait for a lot of things in life. And time seems to stand still sometimes during those waits. Christmas is a time to stop and slow down and reflect on the wait that the Israelites had for their Messiah that had been promised and foretold years and years and generations before.
Trying to take and slow down this season that often feels rushed and hurried and busy and focused on gifts and events and getting what we want and making everything perfect and making it more real and tangible and slowed way down was my goal this year for this Christmas season. First off, Amazon is amazing. A few clicks here and a few clicks there and bingo, shopping is done and I didn’t have to move off my couch and go to a store. I didn’t step foot inside a single store this holiday season and it was amazing.
Our church had a living nativity a couple of weekends ago and we ventured out with the boys. It was a church “all play”, where they asked everyone in the church to take part and help in some way. I wish I could say our family served in great ways, but honestly, we provided a plateful of treats to handout to those that came. I was kind of thinking it was a miracle that we managed to get all of us there (I’m still counting relatively small things as great victories within our new normal). The boys really liked it, especially the live camel that was there. A couple of days later Caedmon declared to me “Mommy, when I grow up I’m going to be Mary and hold Baby Jesus”. I told him that that was very nice, but kind of hard for boys to be Mary. He was quiet for a few minutes and then told me “Then Mommy, I want to be an angel and have flappy wings”.
I wanted to do something for Advent though with the boys. We have a beautiful magnetic Advent calendar and I remembered to pull that out a good number of days after the start of the month. At that point we were already so far behind I decide to not even attempt it. That and I had found the “giving manger” online from a friend’s link and decided that would be a simple and meaningful route to go.
It’s really just a simple wooden manger and a bundle of hay. It comes with a book that tells a story and explains it, but basically when you do something for someone then you place a piece of hay in the manger. As the month goes on the manger gets more and more full of hay. The boys have really gotten into it and are excited to do things for others so that they can make baby Jesus a soft bed. Tonight before bed we will lay baby Jesus in the manger bed of hay, not because the good things we do for others are all that valuable, but rather because of the great gift He is to us.
Tonight we will also go to Christmas Eve service at our church. I got wise a few years ago and decided to just put the boys in their pjs before we go so that when we get home things are set and ready for bed. Some years I’ve even had matching pjs for them. So not happening this year, but they will be in their pjs nonetheless for church. Hoping we don’t manage to make a scene tonight. A few years ago during the candle lighting part while singing “Silent Night” Leighton actually lit his hair on fire. It was just a small amount, but nothing sets the mood of reflection and celebration like the smell of burnt hair. And then 2 years ago Caedmon escaped from me while Clint was on stage singing a serious song and started dancing around Clint on the stage and kept stopping and saying “Hi Daddy” throughout the song. Who knows what tonight will bring…but hoping that in the midst of whatever craziness they cause we can all stop and reflect and remember.
May each of you have a blessed Christmas. It may be full of joy, it may be full of sadness, and it may be full of longing. No matter what form of Christmas you have I pray that we can all stop and take a few moments to reflect on the gift that was given to us in a simple manger long ago.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:1-19