I am sitting in my chair by the fireplace and laughing to myself about what I see. Within reach, I have a stack of Advent devotionals that I have recently retrieved from my bookcase and a HUGE stack of holiday catalogues. When we returned from our Thanksgiving travels, the stack of mail that awaited me contained almost 30 catalogues for my cyber shopping pleasure! Also within reach are my cell phone, the home phone, my computer, a notebook for making lists and, of course, my cup of coffee. As the tshirt I saw the other day said "I'm fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world." With the supplies I have surrounding me, the only thing I could possibly be missing is a cape and a nice tiara!
Advent...a word ripe with meaning for followers of Jesus and, if I'm honest, a potential source of stress for a busy mom/ volunteer. I absolutely love this time of year; in fact, I would say that Christmas is my favorite season of the year. However, each year I find myself struggling to find balance in the way I "do" Christmas. I long for times of quiet contemplation and study...times to read God's word and my Christmas devotionals and ponder once again the mystery and beauty of God incarnate. However, I also love the hustle and bustle of decorating and shopping and celebrating. This year, I am also mindful of the significance of this Christmas for our family as we consider how we will continue our Christmas traditions next year when Alex is living somewhere else for much of the season (not to mention all these unending college application deadlines so "conveniently" settled amidst the months of Dec./January!) And, did I mention that Alex's 18th birthday is December 11th? With all this going through my mind, is it any wonder that I found myself restless and distracted as I settled down for my morning quiet time with the Lord?
I consciously focused on breathing deeply and slowly as I opened the pages of my favorite Christmas devotional. Apparently, I am not the only one that often finds themselves "chasing" after Christmas. These words struck a chord with me:
As we are searching for God, the good news is that God is searching for us. Better yet, He has found us. The great question is not whether we have found God but whether we have found ourselves being found by God. God is not lost. We were, or as the case may be, we are....
Seekers and searchers of all times have looked toward the heavens in order to find God. Then the gift was given. Mary's searching was interrupted by an angel who promised that soon, very soon, in a matter of nine months, she would look not up but down, into the face of the baby in her arms, into the face of God. This is called incarnation, meaning that God is infleshed in our humanity...And so it is with all who, wearied by their searching, wake up to the gift already given; so it is with all who wake up to find themselves found by Emmanuel, God with us.
Give us the grace, we pray, to surrender to being found.
"The grace to surrender to being found"...that's it! Everything that Christmas is or was or will be is already true and present and given. I don't have to chase after Christmas. Emmanuel, God with us, is already with us. The gift is given and there is nothing I need to do except surrender. Surrender to His grace, rest in His love, accept His gift. He says "Be still and know that I am God." He says "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Perhaps Christmas is all about sitting still for long enough to once again be found.