Today went so well. Worship. Lunch all ready in the crockpot. Long rest time for the kids and peppermint mochas and reading in bed for us. We had decided to decorate for Christmas today and I confess, I had visions of EVERYTHING decorated (indoors and out!) and some presents wrapped by bedtime tonight. The tree finding went of without a hitch and we brought home the best free-range cedar we've ever found. Bringing decorations down from the attic? Smooth as buttah. Even the lights untangled and EVERY strand but one worked. I mean, we were looking good.
Then it all stopped going so well. Decorations were being strewn about the house with abandon, the tree would not stand up on it's own. Half a string of lights that were already on the tree gave out.
Shall I recount?
broken strand of decorating beads: a hundred red beads rolling all over the floor
angry baby eating leftover spaghetti
3 year old opening his advent calendar present on the sly
hungry three year old caught foraging in the cupboard for craisins
the dustpan DISAPPEARED
morose toddler eating leftover spaghetti
broken hearted big kids who wanted spaghetti, too
frantic noodle cooking in the midst of it all
husband with a headache
angry baby mad at spaghetti
angry baby realizes that the rest of family is eating spaghetti and demands more
as does 3 year old
NOT ONE ORNAMENT ON THE TREE!
Finally, T called it a night. Advent and to bed. Decorations on delay.
We cleared the table, threw the advent wreath together. Grabbed the advent books, calendars, Bible and dug the first Jesse Tree ornament out of the bag.
Deep breaths. Candle lit. And then, J somehow took on the responsibility of reading tonight's passage. For the first time, I heard my son really and truly reading scripture all on his own.
It was sweet. It was a glimpse of the fruit of our labors. Not only that our son is reading well, but a glimpse of the man of God I hope he will one day be. A "Jesus-man" as our dear friend Sue Jakes says.
We sang as a family after the devotion and the songs we have sung year after year came right back to them. I could sense the fellowship, the wonder, the longing, and awe of centuries of saints gone before us.
After bed-time, I was downstairs sorting through the Jesse Tree ornaments and trying to get them in order to place in their appropriately numbered envelopes. Miss A came downstairs because she couldn't sleep, so I let her help me. She had lots to say, but hearing her recount on her own many of the Bible narratives and connections with the Jesse Tree ornaments filled my heart with thankfulness: for her, for our church and the faithful people who take their covenant at baptism seriously and teach our children.
Then, as I was paging through the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, really emotionally joy--full, I read the story of King Herod and the slaughter of the innocents. Heart-stabbing hurt, there.
I wish I fully understood the why of life. The why of so much hurt and suffering, mingled with joy and gladness. I only know what God has given so plainly: Creation. Fall. Redemption. Glory. There's a BETTER day coming. A BETTER joy. A BETTER righting of wrongs. God's going to make it all right and wipe away every tear. The deep down feeling we all have that there is something MORE will be satisfied.
I pray that you, my friend, would rest in Jesus.
Jesus, joy of the highest Heaven, born as a little baby under a wondrous star.
Like us, crying, he takes His first breath, held by his mother, helpless,
close to her beating heart.
Jesus, laid in a lowly manger,
facing a world of dangers,
come to turn me, a stranger,
into a child of God.
Jesus, joy of the highest Heaven, learning to take His first step, that He might bring us life.
Like us, knowing our smiles and sorrows, He showed the way to follow,
a way that is true and right.
Jesus, take away every darkness;
Steady my simple footsteps,
that I might in your goodness,
live as a child of God.
(Keith and Kristyn Getty)