Here it is,the final Sunday of Advent. It is amazing to me how each and every Christmas, admist traditions and greatest desires to keep things "the same", each Christmas is different; different details, different circumstances, different relationships, just different. In our home, it is a different Christmas this year. One that includes me not being as "mobile" as I have been during other Christmases. I felt the limiting effects of this throughout the season, and it precluded me from being able to keep some of our family traditions or things that I enjoy doing!! I missed the hussle and bussle of doing my shopping among the masses, everything was ordered online this year. I missed doing a lot of baking and sharing it with friends. I missed driving in my car and singing to carols throughout the season. I missed being able to pick up the poinsetta I always buy my mom and just dropping in with it to say, "I love you - Merry Christmas" and spend a few moments with her (sorry Mommy). Yes, there were many things I missed this Advent season.
The greatest gift, though, is the same each and every year. It never changes, it always is full of awe. I won't miss it this year; I haven't missed it in past years, and I won't miss it in years ahead. You see, the greatest and most constant gift that comes every Christmas, without fail and with much joy, is Jesus. He is always there for us, no matter how different each Christmas may be. He is there regardless of our circumstances, regardless of our details, regardless of our relationships - HE IS HERE!! The great joy this brings my heart, and I hope brings your heart as well, makes up for all the "missed" things I wasn't able to do this year. Our lives may be full of desires for traditions of the past, and making memories for the future. That usually involves some sort of change that we may not always see during the moment. Looking back upon those changes, we see the greatness of Jesus' presence in our Advent season, and all that He brings us.
So for this, my last symbol to share with you the meaning of this Advent season, I'd like to share the nativity scene. To me, it will always be the greatest symbol of Christmas. Along with Christmas each year, I have been able to unfold a nativity scene each and every year regardless of where I called home. I have incredibly fond memories of being home as a child and waiting for my mom to take out the nativity scene. Yes, when I was very young it was fun to "play" with, but as I grew older and better understood the Christmas story, the beauty of each and every piece meant so much. The animals, the wise men, the shephards, Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus. As I moved out of my childhood home and into my own, I bought a scene that I found to be beautiful and simple. Today, our living room table is adorned by a nativity scene that was made by my mother, and a true familly heirloom. As I sit and look at each piece, it is hard not to imagine what it was like that first Christmas. What did the shephards think when the heavenly angels appeared? What did Joseph think when the innkeeper said there was no room at the inn? How did Mary feel holding the Savior of all men for the first time? These questions fill my heart each Christmas as I look at the nativity scene; questions that bring my heart peace.
This Christmas, I wish everyone a Christmas filled with tradition and change, same and different, and ultimately, the peace that only Jesus, our Savior, can bring to each of us. I thank everyone around me who has helped me through this Advent season. Yes, I might have missed things, but I have been blessed with so much more. Giving that has come in so many forms, from meals to cards to flowers; giving in the form of precious time; giving in the form of physical labor that many have endured for me (thanks so much Juan); giving in the form of patience and kindness. To experience so much giving from others has humbled me greatly and has shown me Jesus in so many people's hearts. To all my friends and my wonderful family, thank you, for showing me the true meaning of Christmas this year. My love to all of you -
"...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (NIV) Luke 2:7