Monday, December 30, 2013

In Which Life Happens and I Learn from It.

As I mentioned on my 7QT post last week, Advent this year was a big, fat fail. A good chunk of that was thanks to not being home for most of Advent, unless we were packing/unpacking. The Jesse Tree fizzled out after about a week. The second, third, and fourth candles of the Advent Wreath never saw a flame until Christmas Eve. We decorated in the most liturgically correct way we could muster -- the weekend before Christmas. I did sing lots of "O Come! O Come! Emanuel," if that counts for anything.

I wasn't overly concerned, though. I was looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the last few days of the season. I thrive on it. I was going to do all my Adventing in a week.

Then, as luck would have it, Clare got sick with some lame virus. Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and even Monday turned into a blur of fevers and medicine, doctors and worry. And prayers. Lots of prayers. All my poor, sick, miserable girl wanted to do was lounge on Mama. It was all I could do to sneak away for a few errands, get a bare minimum of stuff done, keep Charles and myself alive. One-by-one, items were crossed off the to-do list; not completed, but not necessary either. That's why there are no lights up at our house. Why there were only two kinds of cookies (both already made and frozen) for Christmas. Why visits never got paid. Why things slowed down.

Thanks to lots of answered prayers, when Clare woke up on Christmas Eve, her fever was broken.She had enough energy to watch Nick Jr. somewhat independently and let us pull everything together to have some family over for a nice Christmas Eve celebration. One where it was easy to thank God for answered prayers.

Also feeling well enough to climb in the block basket.

The (not so surprising) thing about Christmas, though, is that it comes, whether you've had a good Advent or not, whether you're ready or not.

Maybe that's why Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. I wake up to anticipation and the ever-present holiday to-do list. There is a buzz in the air. Inevitably, the deadline, whatever it may be hits, and then . . .

Then, then, then . . .

Christ is there.

He is there in anticipation of children, waiting for their gifts, even when they don't (fully) recognize that Christ is the real gift of Christmas.

He is there in the music, the readings, the candlelight.

He is there in His Church, gathered in worship.

He  is there in families and friends. In food and fellowship.

He is there in the midst of the sickness, hunger, sadness, and loneliness that plague so many during the holidays.

He is there, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.

He is there, a babe born in Bethlehem, the Word Incarnate.

He is there, seeking a way to enter our hearts, to fill us, to change us. He is there, beckoning us, waiting for us. That is what Christmas is all about. We might be waiting for Him in our liturgical celebrations, but really, He is waiting for us.

I might have spent my last days of Advent frustrated with my inability to do. I might have "gotten busy" and pulled a lovely evening together for our company. I might have failed to meet my own expectations for what the day should be, but I actually saw what Christmas can be. I saw through the trimmings and trappings. I saw what mattered most. I saw Christ.

I know that, time and time again, I get distracted. I fail to pray as I should. I fail to see Christ where I should. I fall short. But thankfully, God is loving and merciful, always waiting for us to come back to Him. I thank God for this Christmas, and another chance to return to the embrace of He who was born lowly, laying in a manger, and later rose to eternal Glory.

God bless us, everyone.

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