Candy blogs: My mind and heart have been all aswirl since Thanksgiving. Christmas has always been a very emotional holiday for me. Christmas was magical because of so many things … our big, happy extended family, sledding and snow games, drying our wet snow clothes on a rack over the wood stove grate, the “program” us cousins put on every year, singing together in beautiful harmony, the kids’ table, the olives on our fingers, Grandma’s fudge and pies and Grandpa’s hard candy and sticky caramel popcorn. And snow, always snow. Could I feel the magic without snow?
But this year my mind was swirling about how to honor the birth of my Savior rather than gifts and events and re-creating the magic. I was especially moved by the theme our pastor and staff chose for Advent this season … The Advent Conspiracy. It’s main message is that Christmas changed the world and it is still changing the world. I’ve been pondering that for weeks. Christmas changed ME. Even since LAST Christmas.
In years past my expectations of Christmas always left me disappointed and wondering what I hadn’t done to feel the magic. This year, with my thoughts on the impact of Christ’s birth in my little life, I journeyed through Advent season very differently. My heart overflowed with gratefulness for what He made possible.
Hearing the old, old story read and sung and seeing it acted out gave me a sense of being enfolded, encapsulated in the presence of God. I felt very small … I felt the smallness of being part of the Ages. Sometimes I got lost in the passage of time, almost like a timeline flashing along over the centuries like time-lapsed photography. God’s presence moving and hovering over the earth. It made me very aware that God is hovering right over me, right in my window of the timeline, just as He has since the beginning of time. His presence seemed more dense, more tangible, more active.
A friend’s little one said this about God on Facebook recently and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.
“There was a bunch of sunshine coming into one of our bedrooms and she told me to come look. ‘It’s so shiny!! It looks like God is in here!!’”
That is exactly how I’ve been feeling about Christmas … more aware than I’ve ever been of the very real, gentle, palpable presence of the Living God. It’s like it’s been streaming in through the window and I have basked in its warmth.
Bask means to lie in or be exposed to a pleasant warmth. I can’t bask if I’m not exposed. There is risk in being exposed but we can risk exposure if we completely trust that Jesus always has our good in mind. Trusting leads to basking.
Okay … I just slapped myself a little to come back to reality. My Advent season wasn’t just a weird spiritual “experience”. All that “presence” flowed out onto others. (Some got shiny.) I wasn’t concerned this year about trying to make everyone around me feel just like I did. I sat back and let God do what He was going to do in others and didn’t interfere or manipulate. I basked. Others were grumpy … I basked. Others complained about the money they were spending … I basked. Others drove like maniacs in Christmas traffic and in Wal-Mart aisles … I basked. Others overspent on breakable, consumable, indulgent gifts… I basked in the warmth of encouraging character and relationships and conversation. Thanks, Pastor Darrel and staff, for pointing us to the Light of Christmas.
Remember that scene in The Nativity movie where the shepherds and wise men find the place where the Christ child lay? How did the movie show they found it? The stars aligned and shone a great light … almost a beam of light … right into that stable cave. When I saw that scene again this week, it made me think of my friend’s little one and her innocent comment about God being shiny. And I watched Mary in the movie say to the old shepherd, “He is for all mankind.” Indeed.
The Ages … all mankind … me … you. Christmas still changes the world.