While I was going through the Christmas decorations, I came upon this guy! While I know that he looks a little "worn out" he deserves to look a little tired. He is more than 50 years old! Ken got this Santa when he was 9 or 10 years old! It always was on the front door of their house. It looks home made but he is not exactly sure where it came from. For many years, when Gwen and Doug were small, he spent time hanging on our closet door - exactly where he is right now! Somehow we lost track of him for many years and I only recently found him again. It is really nice to have these small bits of years gone by that blend in with all of the new things around us.
Last night, after the play and the flowers and the excitement, the kids asked me to stay at their house and participate in their nightly Advent devotions! I was honored to be asked and of course stayed for this event. Gwen and Tim have several different Advent activities. They have a really neat count down string that hangs from their fireplace mantel. Each day they read a portion of the "Jesse Tree" story from the Children's Storybook Bible and then a corresponding picture is added to the countdown line. Yesterday the story was Adam and Eve. They also have an Advent Wreath (that includes a small piece of candy for each child) and a "story book" ornament for each day. The book yesterday was about Mary. Then these little books get hung on a special little Christmas Tree. To complete their Advent activities, there are special Christmas books that are wrapped as presents. Each night someone chooses a book to unwrap and then that book is read! Wow! That is a lot of stuff! But even at a very late hour for these four little ones, and even after the excitement of the play, all four sat and listened through all of the readings. There were some great comments and questions about Adam and Eve, about the fruit and about the real problem - disobedience. What a great reminder it was to me of the importance of just MAKING THE TIME - even when you might not feel like you have the time, to stop and remember the reason for the season. What really warmed my heart was hearing Gwen recount the Advent traditions from her growing up years. And I saw and felt again, the importance of sowing into the generations to come through our own children.
Yes, that was the perfect end to that day, and it was exactly what I needed to remind me to stop and really contemplate the season. With the decorating and the shopping and the extra things of the holiday, it is easy to jump on that busy-ness treadmill. And after a short time, you realize that you are running faster and faster and getting further and further behind. I believe that it is time for ME to find an Advent devotional (or two, or three) and make sure that I set aside that time each day to reflect on the wonder of Christmas. It is my encouragement and my challenge to each of you, to do the same.
Jesus, thank you for knowing exactly what a most needed and showing me the way through my grandchildren. Thank you for the wonder and joy that children experience during this season. Holy Spirit, help us all to stop and reflect on the great love of the Father that brought Jesus to us. Help us all to see the shadow of the cross in the light of the manger. Amen