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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have a "Mary" Christmas

Yes, it is Christmas Eve and perhaps a little late for this particular reflection but as they say - "better late than never." I've spent the last few weeks, no doubt, as you have - shopping, visiting, and generally going about spreading good cheer with a smile and "Merry Christmas" planted firmly on my lips. Tonight I found myself rushing out to a department store on Christmas Eve - one of my "I will never do that" moments...but alas, in the busy-ness of the last few days, I had forgotten a gift that needed to be under my tree in the morning. As my husband and I rushed into the store he was noticing my posture - back bent, hands clenched, feet rushing, frown lines glowing red - and he asked if I was ok. Not really was my reply - I was worried about tonight's Christmas Eve service, was I prepared? I was worried about Christmas morning for my girls - had I forgotten anything else? Would they be disappointed? I was worried about tomorrows service - would anyone come? Would the media computer behave or act up again and if it did, what would I do? I was concerned with our busy time-table of trying to be 3 different places tomorrow. My dear sweet husband looked at me for a moment and said, "Wow, no wonder you are sore - that's an awful lot of weight you're carrying around." Hmmm, I hate it when he does that.

In one simple sentence, he can stop me in my tracks and make me see how silly I am. So, I did what any wife would do in that instance...I ignored him and kept on walking.  I decided to skip going with him and my girls to the Christmas Eve service at his church so that I could come early to my church and make sure everything was prepared and thus found myself alone in my office on Christmas Eve, beginning to feel a little sorry for myself that I "had to work" on such a night when other families were together.  But then I looked across my desk to my little prayer altar and felt the beckoning on my three candles and prayer book. So I closed my computer, put aside my script, lit my candles and curled up on my big pillow.

For 30 minutes, I went to my "spot" - I pray visually, so my "spot" is to imagine myself as Mary - not the "mother of Jesus" Mary but the "Martha and Mary" Mary.  See, I'm a self avowed Martha - work, work, worry, worry - so I force myself in prayer time to take the "better way" and sit at Jesus feet - that is where my "spot" is. Only tonight, our room was a stable, and Jesus was his infant self - and I was kneeled beside him...waiting to find out why I was there.  The word came loud and clear - Simplicity!

In the craziness of the Christmas season do we not have the tendency to complicate things with too many perfect expectations, a constant swarm of programs and parties, a calendar that looks more like a blueprint diagram - well you know what I mean - but is that really what God gave to us at Christmas? He could have done more - it could have been more complicated and showy - there could have been a great production - a mass incident of...well...biblical proportion? Yet, unto us a child was born - simple as that. In a stable, to a young couple. Amidst hay bales and the flicker of a flame the Messiah came into the world.  In my "Mary" mode I sat and imagined it all and I prayed...

My God, Why do I feel the need to be so strong when you were willing to become so weak? Teach me to claim the manger as my own - a simple place of humble weakness, which holds the power of a King.

And in that prayer, I gave my Christmas over to God - I handed God the power to make tonight's service what he will - I handed him the power to be all my children need and desire in life - I handed him tomorrow's worship service - to move freely in the hearts of those who seek him...and I gave Martha the weekend off. I'm going to have a "Mary" Christmas - and kneel at that manger and be awed.

"Mary" Christmas my friends,
May the light of Christ guide you, the love of God keep you, and the fire of the Holy Spirit warm you
Amen