Ordinary Holy

I read a quote this Advent that stuck with me: “If you don’t find Christmas in your heart, you’ll never find it under the tree”. This has been mulling around in my mind as I’ve prepared Bible study lessons for a class I am teaching, and as I prepare to celebrate Christmas again with my family.

We’re having a very busy December here. There hasn’t been much down time to reflect on anything. It has been mostly about keeping up. Each week, one of our activities wraps up, and I find myself counting down (with glee) to each ending point. I just know some breathing room is around the corner. That promise has kept me going.  Is this really the way to prepare for Christmas? How do I do this to myself again and again? Even as I wonder, I know the answer. It’s how I am wired. The Type A “woman of action” I’ve been called. But I wonder if that is the real reason for my frenzied pace. I don’t do so well with down time because it gives too much time to think on things I’d rather avoid. It’s easier for me to just keep going… and going… and going. I wonder what would happen if I ever really stopped.

The pace has affected my attitude at home in the ordinary day to day. I really have not had much patience with the daily training of children. My busyness has brought out the bother in me. I find myself grumbling more than I care to admit. Something else I read about Advent applies here – “a time to see the ordinary in a holy light”. Sounds lovely, but impractical with everything I have on my plate. If I am honest, the ordinary is a nuisance. I know this is not how it is supposed to be. Something needs to change.

The change needed is inside me. I realized just the other day that I am “in charge” of deciding what is important for celebrating Christmas with my children. I decided to make going to Christmas Eve service a priority and to move the plans with my family to accommodate this change. This may sound like an easy thing, but for me, it was changing a long-standing tradition and subconscious expectation. I’ve decided I need to get to the root of my overburdened schedule and cut it down, so Christmas can truly bloom in my heart. I need to sit with my Lord in the dark places, like the soft shadowy light shining from my mantle onto the son’s stocking hung by the tree with care. The stocking for the son who will not be home for Christmas, or ever again like it used to be. I need Jesus to bring the light of Christmas here, into my heart of broken dreams.

One of my favorite preachers is Oswald Chambers. I read his devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest” faithfully. Oswald says it doesn’t take much faith or grace to respond in a crisis – our human heroics do the job there naturally. But it takes “the supernatural grace of God” to be a saint in the ordinary – in the daily drudgery of life. Can we get Christmas into our hearts in the places where the world is not as it should be; where we are busy as ever trying to avoid facing that reality? May the holy light of Christmas shine brightly into the ordinary brokenness of each heart this year.