Post Christmas check-in.
How are you doing? Are you rested and recovered from the blur of last-minute preparations?
December 24, 7:00 pm
There is excitement in the air! Lights are twinkling, carols are playing, gifts are waiting. All is merry and bright.
December 25, 7:00 pm
Christmas is over. I ate too much. Tomorrow we have to clean up the mess, return and exchange gifts, and put all the decorations away. And where on earth is that gift for Uncle Joe that never arrived in the mail?
Beyond the Manger
The week before Christmas, my husband and I began watching The Chosen. (If you have not discovered this new series about the life and ministry of Jesus, be sure to check it out.)
Two days after Christmas, we discovered a special episode about Jesus’ birth. After watching it, I began thinking about the day after Jesus was born. What happened that day? The Bible doesn’t say specifically, but most likely, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus left the stable to pay their taxes. And the manger went back to being a feeding trough for the animals. Imagine that.
For one night, that manger became a humble bed for our Savior, yet over 2,000 years later, it still fills us with hope. So, as you begin packing away your decorations this week, and Christmas 2020 becomes a distant memory, remember that Immanuel — God with us — remains forever.
How is it December already? There are still Thanksgiving leftovers in our refrigerator!
As in past years, it was a laid-back holiday, right up until the meal was served. The turkey was carved, and then there was the usual mad dash trying to get all the dishes onto the table while they were still hot. After years of serving cold mashed potatoes, Bob Evans made his inaugural appearance last Thanksgiving. Problem solved. He’s been a frequent dinner guest ever since.
Finally the candles were lit, the blessing was shared, and the long-awaited meal was before us. I looked around the table and my heart was full. My husband and children were beside me, and my brother was with us too. He stopped to visit Mom on his way to our house. Her absence was on our hearts, but we knew she was safe and warm and where she needed to be.
God has blessed my family in so many ways. His grace is sufficient for me.
Today we begin the Season of Advent, in watchful anticipation of our Savior’s birth. Immanuel . . . God with us.
Each year I vow to slow down and be part of the season, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the stress of it all. That’s no easy task. Amen?
It’s a rainy First Sunday in Advent, and I am quietly sipping my coffee while admiring our Christmas tree. It has become a family tradition to decorate the tree after Thanksgiving dinner, simply because we’re all together. And knowing that my brother might be tempted to not have a Christmas tree this year, I drove to his house yesterday and we decorated together. As we unpacked his ornaments, we talked about past holidays, and happy childhood memories when life was simpler — and slower.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could slow down the month of December to a more leisurely pace? It would be fun to attend every tree lighting ceremony, Nutcracker performance and choral concert I could squeeze onto my calendar. I’d like to have several weeks to decorate my home too, instead of an hour here and there. And I would love to wrap my gifts long before the task becomes completely overwhelming.
“But,” I remind myself, “it’s only the First of December!” For a moment I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge when he realizes that he didn’t miss Christmas after all — there’s still time!
After church today, I intentionally planned my afternoon to include a little shopping, a little decorating, and a few more leftovers. I have a new devotional to read and ponder each day during Advent, and at the end of the coming week, we will once again be participating in One Starry Night in Bethlehem at my church. Now in its fifth year, there truly is no better way to share the joy of Christmas!
How will you slow down and enjoy the coming week? How will you celebrate this wonderful Season of Advent? I’d love to hear all about your plans!