Every December since our elder child was about two or three years old, the same thing happens. The anticipation of Christmas turns our children into possessed creatures. They argue more, act out in school, whine at the drop of a hat, and generally become entirely unpleasant to be around. No matter how much I try to minimize the excitement of Christmas, the buzz around them is unavoidable, and, ergo, crazy behavior. I found myself so frustrated the other day with the constant effort to reign them in that I had the distinct thought, “I just wish Christmas was over already!”
But I soon as had the thought, I knew I did not mean it. You see, despite the mayhem of the season, in these last days of Advent, there are still sacred moments everywhere. As we read our Advent devotional this week, one of the questions was, “Who are you praying for this Advent.” My younger daughter immediately said, “I want to pray for all dead people.” “Oh,” I said, “like whom?” “Like MeeMaw,” she said. And despite the fact that they nearly broke half the ornaments that came out of the ornament box, now, every morning, both girls rush to the tree to plug in the lights and find the ornaments that play Christmas tunes or funny sounds, twirling around in their nightgowns to the sounds. And last week, as they had their Christmas dance performances, I teared up watching them, remembering how very special dance had been to me growing up.
The same can be true in any season. Whether we are putting our heads down, trying to finish one more project, or absorbed in technology for extended periods of time, or simply fixated on our endless to-do lists, we can achieve a lot, but miss life along the way. Fortunately, we are blessed with a God who is continually trying to get our attention anyway – who is relentless in pursuing relationship with us. In these last days of Advent, God invites us to take a deep breath, lift up our heads, and open our eyes to the beauty of the sacred all around us.
Hickory Neck offers us the opportunity to do that over the next several days. Whether you come to our Blue Christmas service, our last Advent liturgies, Christmas Eve services, or the service on Christmas Day, there will be multiple times to see glimpse of the sacred all around you – ways in which the manger is a window into the greater redemptive work God is doing in the world. Whether it’s with an encouraging word from our Blue Christmas service, the sharing of memories at an upcoming funeral, or the wedding vows that one couple will renew on Christmas Day (sixty years later!), what we learn is that in the chaos of life, God is gifting us sacred gifts in tiny, momentous ways. Today, I invite you to receive God’s gifts among the chaos.