In a few minutes, I’ll shut the laptop down for the next couple of days. After a month of Advent preparation, we have some serious celebrating to do.
Allie said to me this morning,
“Mom, we don’t use the Bible for Advent tomorrow. We’ll sing Happy Birthday to Jesus! I’m going to keep that family tradition for a thousand years.”
Moments like this stop me. All the times this year I’ve felt like she’s getting it. Her report card that declared her a caring little girl. The day she came home so concerned because one of her classmates had gotten a haircut. And the little girl didn’t like it one bit. So she planned to wear a hat on her head until it all grew out again. Allie told me,
“I went right up to her and told her she still looked beautiful.”
Sometimes grades have precious little to do with a child’s development. I see her compassion growing. And I couldn’t be more proud.
Jesus the Christ had to come. We weren’t able to love one another on our own. We couldn’t perform well enough to commune with a holy God. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden after eating the forbidden fruit. We have so much to hide. So God sent us this little baby. Emmanuel. And we can’t wrap our minds around that. The greatest example of compassion we’ll ever receive. During His time on this earth, Jesus cared. Yes, He taught. There were miracles. But at the heart of things He loved.
The disciples who never quite got it.
The woman caught in adultery.
The lady who touched the hem of His garment.
The wee little man who climbed up in the Sycamore tree.
The more I study the life of Jesus, the more I read God’s Word to us, I believe the best way we can show ourselves as His disciples is to love. Love God and one another. I sit here this Christmas Eve reflecting. And these days, the best way I reflect is to write. Truly, I wonder sometimes if I can even think through something without writing it out. That is the best gift I have received from blogging. I think more clearly through writing.
I’ve had this Willow Tree nativity for years. I know it makes the scene at the manger more beautiful than it actually was. I know the Wise Men didn’t make an appearance the night Jesus arrived. However, Royalty came to earth on that night. Christmas Eve. That is beautiful. Perhaps it’s OK if our nativities reflect that.
This year, I added a Willow Tree Christmas tree topper to my collection. She’s beautiful also. Regal. And her glittery ring catches the lights just so. A reminder of the angels we cannot see. And the beautiful work they do. Speaking of our religious symbols, I’ve never really liked the cross. Another symbol of our faith we’ve made beautiful. And it isn’t. The cross hurt Jesus. It cost Him everything. For me. I can’t celebrate Jesus’ birth without thinking about the cross. And at Easter, I remember the birth. Perhaps that’s what I’m watching to see if Allie comprehends. We can’t have tomorrow’s birthday party without the cross. And we can’t have the cross without the birthday party. Jesus’ life is everything. Keeping Him first in her life will take her on a lifelong journey from the manger to the cross to the empty tomb. Year after year. Wonder to horror to jubilation. That’s life. Every emotion on the planet. That’s certainly been this past year for me. And those I walk this journey with.
Today, I remember the night Mary settled into a smelly stable. And Joseph rolled up the sleeves on his cloak and wished like crazy a midwife would happen by them. As those dirty shepherds headed out to the fields for just another night watching the sheep (thank you Eugene Peterson for telling us in “The Message” that later, after meeting JESUS, they “returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen” - Luke 2:20).
Today, I pray these words for my daughter:
“Lord, let her take it to heart. In partnership with you, may we be teaching her to see the Christ child as you intend for us to see Him. As our Redeemer. Your Game Changer. Love came down. As she grows up, may she always see the manger with a cross in the distance. Give us a knowing in our hearts that your plan, all of it, is perfect. And Jesus lies at the heart of it.”