Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All I Want for Christmas...

You know the song; sing along...

All I want for Christmas is my sanity, 
some peace of mind, 
God's peace in my heart. 
All I want for Christmas is the grace of God, 
all wrapped up in a humble babyyyyyyyy...

But here is what I'm getting myself into so far this Christmas season:
  • Special orders (thank you God and generous customers!) that are coming together more slowly than I'd like
  • Christmas concerts in triplicate (yay!  Can't wait for "Peace, Peace" and the annual tears of joy and humbled, quaking, grateful heart)
  • Visions of cookies to bake + worries over when we'll make them and deliver them to neighbors and friends (yummm...)
  • Gatherings and fellowship at church and away times five and counting (I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart!)
  • Familial gatherings with loved ones and carols and big happy hugs times five and counting (does it get any better than this?)
  • Crochet and sewing and knitting projects in progress (one down, three on needles, two to go)
  • Christmas cards in transit, pens in waiting for personalized messages (yes, we are stubbornly holding on to this old-fashioned and increasingly rare tradition out of love and affection for our family and friends)
  • One box of Christmas village decorations still waiting to adorn the piano (but the tree is up and decorated!!)
  • Nerves stretched thin and "to do" lists littering the house (Aiyiyiyiyiiiii!)
I thought I'd jot all that down and get it off my chest so I can release a little yuletide anxiety.  It's going to take more than that.  Time for prayer!

Oh, Lord.

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy.  Are you laughing at me yet?  How I always say I'm going to do less to make Christmas more in my heart?  And here I am, as busy and frantic as ever?  What a fool I am.  A foolish Christmas fool. 

Here's the only explanation I have: I am nutty in love with Christmas, and not just the trimmings and trappings and carols and cookies.  I am totally gaga over your gift: a little babe, born in a rustic stable, laid in a lowly manger.  Humble.  Vulnerable.  Coming to the world not in a burst of pomp and circumstance, just wrapped in love and miracle and hope.  Not for the leaders and the elite and the intelligentsia, but for everyone.  Every one of us.  Coming not to wield political power or military might, but to forgive, to love, to save.  Not for an earthly kingdom, rich and royal, but for a heavenly home, doors wide open to every believer.

It makes no sense.  You, God Almighty, coming into the world as a poor but perfect human, to walk with us and live with us and love us no matter what.  There is no other story — no other truth — that moves my heart and builds my faith like this one.

So forgive me for spinning crazy on Christmas.  Slow me down and center me, so that I can thoughtfully, meaningfully share this good gift of yours with my loved ones.  When I get nutty, nestle me in your peace.  When I'm going giddy gonzo, rest me in your grace.  When the words of the world — the "I should"s and "I need to"s and "Aiiiiyiyiyiiiii!"s — cloud my brain, clear my thoughts with your living Word.

These verses, in particular, give my heart a place to rest this Advent Season.  Thank you for putting them right in front of my eyes and writing them on my heart.


For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 
Titus 2:11-14

God's grace
It is a free gift, no strings attached.

offers salvation 
He saves us, redeems us, fills our wholes and makes us holy.

to all people
He comes for every one of us, no matter how battered, how badly behaving, how ignored or endangered.

teaches us to say "No" to worldly passions
This includes the hustle and bustle and buying and busy-ing of contemporary Christmas.

It is time for self control!
to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age
Christmas is not for me to control or orchestrate; it is God's and God's alone.  My role is that of self-control, to limit what crowds out God so that come Christmas Eve there is plenty of room in the inn of my heart for the Christ child to reside and renew my soul.

while we wait
If I fill up my time and space with Christmas activity, am I really waiting?  I need some moments of stillness and silence, moments of empty before Christ fills, as only he can.

the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ
This captures Christmas for me — God appears on Earth, here with us, in human form as Jesus Christ.

who gave himself for us
And here we look to Easter, the second part of God's gift.  His presence among us on Earth is eclipsed only by his death and resurrection for us so we can abide eternally with God in Heaven.

to redeem us from all wickedness 
He saves us from all our faults and imperfections.  We can't do it, but he can, and he wants to, and he does.  Every day.

to purify for himself a people that are his own, eager to do what is good 
So, God, keep filling me with this eagerness, and provide me with the discernment to see the good that I should do and avoid the nice-but-not-necessary that clutters my Christmas heart.  Help me to respond to your good glory by glorifying you with good works... today and every day.  Again, Amen.

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