Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, was particularly challenging this year because it marked the first basketball season that we’ve had four boys playing on different teams.
I know I shouldn’t drag boring old earthly matters into the spectacular of Christmas, but that’s my reality during this season of my life. Basketball season and Christmas season have joined forces for lots of fun!
So for us, Advent, preparing for Christmas, was filled with a ton of basketball games.
On top of that, there was all the practical preparing, which really can be quite lovely and exciting. But I continue to struggle with my ideals for the weeks leading up to Christmas – my heart’s desire for peace and tranquility during this blessed season – and the real-life version of getting ready for Christmas. Even as simple as my husband and I try to keep things, it will never be as simple as what we are celebrating, a baby born in a lowly manger.
In addition to the shopping and planning and realities of day-to-day life, we awaited the results of a bone scan for my mom, a two-time breast cancer survivor. Awaiting this kind of news puts so many other things into perspective, which is indeed a gift. But there is a price to this grasp on reality, which can be fear of the future, if you let it.
In the days that we waited for the results, I had to work so hard not to let myself get carried away with distress and worry. You can really create quite a story in your mind and before you know it, you’ve got the future figured out and you’re officially sad.
In the days we waited, as I fought the urge to predict the future, I had to remind myself I didn’t need to carry this burden. There was no grace for any of it. We were waiting results, nothing had been determined. To give your anxiety back to God, you choose to think positive, you try to swat the negativity like a pesky fly.
But you truly can’t appreciate the burden of waiting, the force pushing upon you, until you hear the good news. Only then is that 10-pound weight lifted off your chest.
Good news. There is nothing like it.
And that’s what we celebrate today, the perfection of Christmas, what all this fuss and hustle is about. It’s celebrating the Good News, the beauty of a God who sent down his most precious possession to bring his people peace.
The beauty of the Christmas season is that everyone seems to get it – perhaps we don’t call it the same thing, maybe we don’t observe things the same, or to the same degree. But today, we celebrate the Good News of a God who loves us.
God is in the midst of our celebration. He is the kind deed done for a neighbor. He is the generosity of spirit shown for the less fortunate. He is the beauty of family, the joy of every good thing. He is bounty and provision, he is simplicity and peace.
And God is with us in the hard times, too. In the cold time of waiting, in the stress of trying to get too many things done with not nearly enough time. He is the soothing balm in our fears and anxiety, the comfort that relieves our burdens and shoulders our fears.
Merry Christmas to all, and may the peace of a God who loves you fill your hearts and homes and bring you comfort and joy.