Thanksgiving Day, this year, merged with the beginning of Hanukkah and then rushed right into Advent. The first Sunday for celebrating Jesus’ birth has already come and gone. An unusual positioning of dates, it makes sense to think of Thanksgiving as the portal through which we access our journey to Bethlehem, and the Old Testament – along with early passages from the Gospels – as the means by which we approach the manger in Bethlehem.
For North Americans, our seasonal donkey is loaded with the stuff of giving and busy remembering. But, for most of us, when we drop with exhaustion after Christmas day, ready to gear up for New Year frivolity, we’ll have to admit we came close to missing the little family with the holy Newborn all together.
On the one hand, it doesn’t really matter. The birth of King Jesus was not overlooked, obscure though it may have been. Research reveals that an angelic host made it their center of attention. Rich, foreign travelers and common herdsmen, alike, managed to keep Him in focus. The pious elderly knew how to offer homage in His royal presence. And a very young mother treasured it all in her heart.
On the other hand, I, for one, would like to support a trend that gradually (if necessary) changes the way many of us celebrate Christmas. ** “Little children, looking up, holding wonder like a cup…” might well refer to more than twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. Rephrased, it could read something like: Children, full of wonder, looking up in adoration… welcoming in their hearts the One Who came as they came – as an infant. The One Who grew as they grow and Who placed loving hands on some of their kind on Judean hillsides.
There’s still time to clear out some space and make room in the stable of our busy lives this month to welcome Jesus. I think it’s fair to ask that if we crowd Him out, might we not just as well move our December festivities a few days or weeks into 2014 and call them New Year’s Celebrations, as so much of the world already does?
I invite you to join me in the days ahead creating and sharing some ways that we might capture the wonder of Jesus’ Advent. May we find ways that cost little or no money, take only a little time for simple planning, and still manage to catch glimpses of heavenly ‘wonder’ for the lives of those we love.
**Barter by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
Life has loveliness to sell, All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff, Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up, Holding wonder like a cup.