Instead of grumbling my usual "It-isn't-even-Thanksgiving yet-Why-do-they- always-rush-Christmas," rant, I sighed a happy sigh.
I don't mind this year. I don't mind one little bit. Perhaps it's because it feels like July was just two days ago, and I'd like to try to make my favorite season last a bit longer. Time has gone by so quickly in recent years, but this year it has streaked by with lightning speed. Turning seventy in a few days may have something to do with it. I'm not sure. All I know is, I'm happy to stretch Christmas out for just as long as it's willing to linger.
I want to savor the days leading up to it - to slow my heart and walk through Thanksgiving with hope and anticipation - to step into Advent with joy - to count the days to His coming.
This sweet Amaryllis plant has become a metaphor for my heart and the hope gently growing within. She grows when most plants are dying and others are burrowing down deep into the darkness for the long winter slumber. She stretches upward toward the light holding the promise of new life.
Christy Nockels' Christmas CD, "The Thrill of Hope," arrived in the mail Saturday. I never play Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but I decided to break the "rules" and popped it into the CD player as we drove home from church. Words of hope and joy wrapped in beautiful melodies filled the car. Gently, sweetly the story of Christmas unfolded.
We've been living through difficult days collectively, and I think it fair to say we all have our share of personal struggles and sorrows. So it has always been, but for some reason the world seems just a bit darker than usual. Hope, I think, has become a rare commodity.
So - deck the halls, play the music and plant the Amaryllis bulbs. They speak of hope - Hope come down in the form of a tiny baby. He came to a world far darker than the one we inhabit today, filled with people who were crushed under the weight of oppressive government and religious laws.
He didn't come with loud noises and flashy slogans. He came quietly, touching lives with grace and mercy. One by one, He drew them - twelve young men to hold close to His heart and carry the message, the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised, the brokenhearted, the needy rich, the lesser-thans. Day by day He did the next thing His Father gave Him to do - touching blinded eyes, gathering children in His arms, teaching in the temple, calling out the religious rulers. Little by little light penetrated the darkness bringing with it a new kind of hope.
Let Christmas come - slowly, day by day, moment by moment - filling us with hope at the thought of His coming. He is coming again.
P.S. Working on something I'll share with you very soon now!