Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
We had been to a Christmas Eve service together—my husband, son and his wife—that year. It had left us wanting more, or less, as the case may have been.
It was 2019, they had gone to church for me. The music had been a little loud, the lights a bit bright. “We didn’t sing a single traditional carol,” someone grumbled in the car on the way home.
Why mess with a good thing, you know? Hand me a candle and let’s sing Silent Night in a quiet, somber mood. I don’t need much more than that on Christmas Eve. But that’s just me.
Later that night, my daughter-in-law, who was 1000 miles away from home and missing her family, sat alone on the couch while my son tried to help me salvage a fiasco. Todd, husband and cameraman, had walked out on the entire ordeal—my great idea to create a twenty-four day on-line Advent Calendar. If you only knew the real story…
There was nothing else left to do that night. Everyone had gone to bed while I was up stewing. It wasn’t the way Christmas Eve was supposed to be. I felt sick with sadness and finally went to bed too, leaving the Calendar unfinished, feeling like one big humiliated failure.
Fast forward three years and I may have a second chance. Tonight is Christmas Eve, we will light candles and sing Silent Night, maybe you will too, or maybe not. That had been the point of my calendar—not to alienate anyone.
With Christmas posts all over social media, I wanted to do something that would not divide us. I only needed to look at my own family to see how different we all were, and yet, so much the same.
My plan had been that regardless of whether we were gay or straight, Jew or Christian, Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or Catholic or…we could find a common thread. Isn’t that what Jesus would have wanted, I thought? I used poetry, pets, Nature, family memories, favorite winter recipes, all I held dear, and I tried to be reverent.
I pondered, I wrote, I woke up early every morning, Bible in lap, reading and waiting to receive a message from God until even that began to feel cheesy… ‘Here I am Lord, what should we post on my calendar today?’ I had had more than one Advent Calendar meltdown. Twenty-four days in a row was a little pressure.
Now here I am, three years later, pondering again the message of Advent, rereading all that I had written that year, wondering if there should be a Christmas Eve message today.
What had I planned to do? Silent Night, Holy Night. It was the one post I had in mind to do from the very beginning. The only one preplanned. I’d found the tape my mom had made of us singing the carol while she played her piano. My late brother’s wife sang the melody like an angel, and he and I sang the descant part he’d asked me to teach him.
Todd videoed the recording while I sat somberly at our little piano, listening. But when I saw the video, I cringed. The lighting was all wrong, I looked like Casper the ghost, only I wasn’t friendly.
It had become all about me.
I was struggling. I was into chemo at that time. When I saw the video, I saw the sick girl that I was, pale and thin, so weakened by that nasty stuff. It wasn’t the girl I wanted to be. On one hand, I was fighting to get my life back, on the other hand, I was struggling to surrender it over once and for all.
“Die to self” was my theme song through the three years that followed. From chemo, to leaving my job which hadn’t gone according to plan either, to a concussion, to COVID, I was continually back in the same place. The place of crying out? “Why is this happening?! What do you want from me, God!”
I was working on believing harder? Yes. I was working on becoming one with God? Yes. And it took all of the above to finally get me to sit still long enough so that God could do the work in me He was waiting to do? Yes. Spiritual surgery. Pride cut out. Ouch.
‘I want you. All of you.’ I kept hearing in my heart.
But what does that mean for me?!
‘If you let me, I will show you.’ I am Christ in you, the hope of glory.
In the words of Indiana Jones, “It’s not so much what you believe. It’s how hard you believe it.”
And, for me, that’s what Advent has been all about. Believing hard.
Advent, a time of preparing for Christ’s return, is about having our pride cut out.
Am I ready? Are we? Oh, Silent Night, Holy Night. Come, Lord Jesus, into the mangers of our hearts, as dark and murky as they may be.
Come, and make us One.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright. Composer, Frank Gruber, Lyrics by Joseph Mohr,1818
Scripture references: Colossians 1:27, 3:15; Romans 2:29.
Feature photo: Photographer unknown.
All the other photos :2019 Advent Calendar.