Sunday, December 28, 2014

Moments of Christmas to Cherish

Which moment made it special for you this year?

When you opened the gift you weren't expecting? When the Christmas Sunday choir sang the new rendition of Joy to the World? Or just the preparation and anticipation of guests and family coming to visit? What new thought about Christ's birth filled you with a deeper gratitude than you had before?

My moments were sprinkled throughout the month of Dec., some with the usual, expected emotions, others coming unexpectedly and each one bringing me a greater appreciation for the life I live today because Jesus came into our world, felt our feelings, and saw things from our limited perspective.

Early in the month I sat at a school Christmas program watching a grand daughter perform. As Christ's birth was highlighted through the beautiful messages of carols, I pictured the Holy Spirit moving over the crowded auditorium, whispering endearments and stirring up emotions and memories in hearts, sneaking in love while their guards were down, the Great Lover drawing and wooing... I prayed for hearts to respond, to turn back to Him, to open up, to question and seek to know more.

I enjoyed moments of listening to the music of the season. At home, in public places, on the iPhone-the Good News was proclaimed, even as background music. No matter how much I try to really listen to the lyrics of the songs and catch the impact of the miracle, when Christmas is over I still want just that once more time to sit and listen and take in the words.

Decorations at our house were limited this year as part of the season we will be traveling and not here to enjoy them. Somehow each piece became more special as I chose which ones to display. My choice depended on each ones history or significant meaning. The manger scene was lovingly unwrapped and each Ivory soap carved figure positioned in the wooden stable. My brother made the pieces a very long time ago.  A friend made the stable.

The snowmen collection huddle together in hats, scarves and mittens on the table inside the front door. Their warm smiles belie their wintry images.  The soft bead-stuffed guy perches on the star box next to the happy fellow who starts to dance when sunlight hits his built- in sensor strip.  Behind them a soft family of Papa, Mama and kids stand close together. A tall metal gentlemen with top hat, nearby, bounces on his spring-based bottom, causing his dangley chimes to sway. In the middle, the ice cube man turns different shades of color-feeling a bit exposed, maybe? Wooden, ceramic, resin or chenille each one has adapted to life indoors. Most of them were gifts, and I remember the giver with fondness.

Family comes together and notices changes since the last time together. Notices the never changing, too. This year two daughters were great with child. One delivered a sweet baby boy before Christmas. The long slow uncomfortable journey the young pregnant Mary endured from Nazareth to Bethlehem, as well as the humble birth of the Christ child in a barn with cattle, shepherds and unsanitized surroundings took on new meaning.

A nephew announces his marriage, a great niece serenades us on piano, Mom and Dad are moving much slower, and a niece brings a new boyfriend. We still play bingo and eat cheesy potatoes and top off the meal with peppermint ice cream.

My take away Christmas meaning this year is a new appreciation for the freedom Christ came to give us. "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill towards men". He bypassed political leaders and religious icons to slip into our world where poor in spirit greeted him first. Angel fanfare was for shepherds' eyes only.  He came to comfort, to seek and save that which was lost. He extends goodwill towards you and me. He still offers to weary and heavy laden ones his rest. He teaches us from his meek and lowly heart.  He came because he knew our need; we never have to be ashamed of that need because it brought/brings him to us. He still brings peace to "meek souls who receive him". This is the freedom he brings, to be loved exactly where and how we are. To trust him to change the broken in us, to right the wrongs, to live forgiven and forgiving.

Thank you, Father, for sending your son to our world. For giving me your life through Him. For knowing exactly what I needed and what our world still needs today, and providing it generously and freely. I surrender anew to your work in me. Make your home in my heart so all my affairs are directed by you.  I give you control. Thank you for choosing me.  I love you, Father.

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