Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Take Time To Breathe

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  Hands down.  There is something magical about the lights, the decorations, the yards of colored ribbon and wrapping paper, the giving.

This morning, the eve of Christmas, when I woke up, I was completely overwhelmed, not with a list of " to do's" but with  peace.  Those of you that know me, may wonder how a mom of so many can not have a list a mile long of to do's and don't forgets the day before Christmas.  Simply put, if it is not done now, it will not get done!  I refuse to rush through this day, in a effort to accomplish a list of things that no one but me will notice going un-done, knowing that in doing so, striving for perfection in my mind,  I would sabotage my all time favorite thing about Christmas, Candlelight service tonight.  

"What?," you may ask, "is so special about tonight's candle light service?"  Honestly, part of it is tradition.  Growing up we always made the trek to church on Christmas Eve.  Special clothing, and shoes, heading out in the dark, holding a candle with a real flame... I remember far more Christmas Eve's attending than not over the years.   When my kids were younger we went, and most eve's did not get through the entire service without a crying baby, a meltdown, snoring children, vomiting children or a burnt finger because of dripping wax, but tradition, over the years has morphed for me to a time of reflection and respite from the busyness of the season.

As I herd the family into the church, I feel a great sense of pride in the fact that these, straggling, sometimes hostile beings call me; "mom".  That they look to me for guidance and direction, for love and for grace.  No matter their ages or stages in life, as I look at each of them, perfectly trimmed out in their Christmas best, sitting in a LONG row, I grow warm inside, feeling that this moment in time, they are perfection in the dim  candle light, angelic looking, sweet, tender beings that are being molded and formed by the Prince and I into men and women that love the Lord and one another. (We do not always succeed, but we do strive to lead them in this way.) Despite the fact that I will have to say at least three times, "back to the back, crack to the crack, seat to the seat", to get those teen age boys into proper seated posture, I know that in my heart I am blessed. 

I love the words of the carols that will be sung.  Even though Sleepy has been singing all these years  "Haste, Haste to bring Him lard," instead of  "Haste, Haste to bring Him laud", which we now share a giggle over, I will be transported over 2000 years to the glorious time of Christ's birth.  Considering the star that guided them, is the same sky that I look at every day, mesmerizes me.  Considering my Savior's lowly start, born in a manger, I count my blessings.  I praise the Lord for his provisions, just as the babe was provided for, so are my family and our household, those that I love. The voices of the choir and the congregation will blend in harmony which will give me pause to consider if this is what the heavenly hosts sound like...

The words of the pastor will encourage, will challenge and will recharge me.  If my focus is out of line tonight, then this will be the time to refocus my perspective and focus on Christ.  The reason that I celebrate this season, this holiday. 

The flickering lights of the candles, while alone would generate little light, as an entire congregation, lights the church with a soft glow.  Reminding me that alone, my light does shines, but when combined with the light of my family, friends and other believers, there is the ability to impact an entire community with the light and truth of God's word. 

The actions of the corporate structure of the church will bless others less fortunate than my family, as we always conclude the Christmas Eve service with a benevolence offering.  Serving to remind me that once again, my gift may be small, but combined can be the difference to a person or family in need. 

By this point in the service, the dwarfs will be getting antsy. I will be sending the "hairy" eye to more than a few, indicating that they need to hold it together for another few moments.  We will then conclude with a couple annual photos by the church's large decorated Christmas tree before heading home for the evening's festivities.  But in our going, I will be prepared for what tomorrow will bring. Great joy, anticipations recognized, joy that comes from within, not based on my circumstances, but laced in the truth of God's word and the promises that He has made to each of us in his Word. 

Isaiah 9:6-7
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

A very warm and heartfelt greeting to you and yours on this the eve of Christmas.  Our family of many, wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

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