Posted by: minnow | December 6, 2009

ADVENT (Mary)

My oldest is 21.  My youngest is 4.  The youngest arrived on the scene 10 years after the next youngest.  I often refer to her as God’s sense of humor.  When the others were grade school age and younger I homeschooled them all.  One of the things we did to learn the months of the year, days of the week, numbers and special events was to make calendars my children could mark off with little season appropriate pictures: September had pictures of school books, crayons, and pencils. April had rain drops and umbrellas.  May had flowers.  For December one year I decided to go all out and made tiny pictures related to the Christmas story.  I pulled that calendars out again this year for my 4-year-old. 

As I showed my daughter all the little pictures she could choose from to mark off the days of December it dawned on me that as her parent I had not made a big deal with her the way I had with her siblings of celebrating “the birth of Christ”.  When her older brother and sister (who I am homeschooling this year) noticed what I was doing with their younger sister, they wanted in on the act.  And, I realized we as a family had not made a big deal out of celebrating “the birth of Christ” at Christmastime for quite a while.  So, this year I have decided to celebrate Jesus with a new heart!

I think the reason I drifted away from celebrating Christ at Christmas is perhaps two-fold.  In the first place, I became jaded by the commercialism or the secular (American) celebration of the season.  I hate shopping.  I hate obligation.  I hate trying to make my children play a certain part.  And Christmas meant all three.  Secondly, I had gotten hung up in a controlling religious spirit when my older children were little so that I did not allow holidays to be too much  fun.  Christmas is serious afterall.  We are talking about God here.  ARGH!

That said, there can be something magical and wonderous about Christmas and I desperately want to share those moments with my children.  Last year I began to do something about the “obligation and commercialization” elements of the holidays–we drew names for gifts in our immediate family and we  pared back on our giving with our extended family.  Both those choices helped me release some of the burden I felt toward the holidays (Getting “Uncle Ed” the perfect sweater when he has not yet worn the 10 other perfect sweaters we have gotten him just quit making sense to me).  This year I want to remind myself and teach my daughter about the miracle of Christmas.  And I think her siblings are excited to help!

We have begun with three Advent calendars–the one I made, another some dear family friends send our children each year complete with delicious chocolate treats, and the third a daily advent book I found which over the course of the season tells the Biblical story of Christmas.  More than once since becoming a mom I have thought of starting a Christmas prayer journal, sort of like the secular “letters to Santa” only with an obviously different intent.  Maybe this will be the year.

Mostly I believe I will find the magic of this season if I take time to cherish the gift I have been given of a life filled with people to love, beauty to enjoy, and peace to pass on.  I am not always a joyful, loving, peace-filled person.  Too often I choose to be grumpy, harsh, and discontent.  Too often I notice the negative first and dwell on what is wrong.  Too often I let fear, guilt, or weariness rule my day.  These are choices I make.  Sure, they might be influenced but the people or situations around me.  Still, I choose how I respond. 

In the only account of how Mary responded to being chosen by God to be the Mother of Jesus we see at first she was troubled by the angel Gabriel’s greeting.  And yet, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary said.  “May it be to me as you have said.”  (Luke 1:38). I do not believe Mary was ignorant.  I think she knew even as she was telling Joseph what had happened that he might choose to divorce her.  In truth he contemplated that very thing. 

When Mary said yes to God, she did not know how she would live or what would actually happen to her.  Yet somehow she had faith that God would accomplish what the angel had prophesied.  In the end, Joseph stayed by her.  She was not stoned.  She did not live in abject poverty with her illegitimate son, subject to the open scorn and ridicule of her community.  But that does not mean she did not suffer.  I am certain gossip and name calling was as prevalent in Mary’s day as it is in ours.  As she watched her son, Jesus, grow to manhood Mary undoubtedly suffered from her share of behind the back whispering.  Yet one of the few emotions attributed to Mary is that of pondering, marveling, and treasuring things in her heart.  (Luke 2:19, 33, and 51).

Mary’s response is what I hope to choose this season.  As I teach and watch my children this Christmas I want to ponder, marvel, and treasure every moment.  I want to take in this Christmas like I might a breath of crisp mountain air.  I want to embrace the challenges and delight in the beauty and wonder of my life.  I want to be able to accept this time as God’s calling on my heart and say, “Yes, Lord.  May it be to me as You have said.”

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Responses

  1. me too 🙂

    beautiful

  2. It makes me think of how many times Mary’s had signs after the Angel to know it was a God thing. I guess the fact she was with Child was a huge sign but she didn’t see much else until the birth and then it was Shepherds who came to afirm it was God not the city officials. i think God is using the little things to reflect his touch in our lives.

  3. Enjoy the season and thankyou for this post.


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