It was not my intention to take a hiatus from writing this season. Rather, I had every intention of offering my usual weekly missives to hopefully encourage you during this hectic time of year. Somehow, life has gotten the better of me.
Keeping up with four busy children is tricky enough. Youth groups, piano lessons, dance classes, and school make for a full schedule. Add to that the demands of the Christmas season: shopping, wrapping, parties, etc. and the juggling act becomes impressive indeed. But that was not enough for us this year, no siree. We decided to be a part of a theatrical production.
We have been involved with a youth theater group in a neighboring town for almost three years now. Every one of my kids have the acting bug, and my husband and I enjoy being involved behind the scenes. To say that this group has become a family passion is a gross understatement. And when we are near production time, it is all consuming.
Now this is not normally an issue. We’ve learned to balance our activities pretty well. We adjust for our limited capacity for busyness and social activity. However, with the extra doings of the holiday season, balance has been elusive. I have been running on a mostly-dead battery for weeks now, which has made this Christmas season an exercise in guilt.
I have not written a thing for three weeks, and while I normally make time to keep abreast of the doings of my cyber-friends, I have been AWOL for this time as well. Worse, I have not baked a single holiday goodie, had any sort of advent reading, or indulged in our usual holiday crafts with my children.
I have been feeling like a lousy mother. When I roll into bed so exhausted I want to weep, I feel like a terrible wife. My absence on the keyboard and in cyberspace makes me feel like a neglectful friend and a lazy writer.
I got so overwhelmed that I decided last week that, as much as we love theater, we would never do another production at Christmas time. I felt as though we were missing Christmas altogether.
Yesterday was the kids’ final performance. I sat in the middle of the auditorium and listened to the final song. It was an old hymn, How Great Thou Art. Now I grew up with such hymns, and frankly, they give me hives. I remember my pastor working hard at the organ, pumping out these sorts of nauseatingly slow songs, and I feel rebellious all over again. But in this instance, I was moved almost to the point of bawling. And not once, mind you, but for all three performances.
As three lovely young ladies began the familiar song, the words began to penetrate for perhaps the first time.
“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
consider all the worlds thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.”
These three Christmas angels paused, while the sound of drums heralded the entrance of the remainder of the young cast. They continued in unison,
“And when I think of God, His son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.”
Twenty-two children of all ages and walks of life lifted their voices to praise our Creator, and suddenly I could see that we haven’t missed Christmas after all. I gazed at each young face and, like the Grinch, I swear I felt my heart grow three sizes in that moment. Some were singing with eyes closed, worshiping their Savior, while others were merely singing a part in a play. No matter. My Jesus lived and died and rose for every one of them.
“When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: My God, how great Thou art!”
The audience rose to their feet, some with tears, some joining in the song, all visibly moved. I found myself praying for these children that I have had the privilege to get to know over these hectic weeks. I have had opportunity to shower them with affirmation and simply love on them. Listening to the swelling chorus, I was humbled to realize that we might be the only Jesus some of these kids see this Christmas. How much more valuable is that than the few little traditions I’d not had time to do?
I gazed at each beloved face and prayed that each of them would one day come to truly know the love of Christ. That they would become one with Jesus and thus be complete and perfect, without blemish in the eyes of our loving Father. Fellow children of El Elyon. My brothers and sisters.
Christmas is not about making sure everything is perfect. Nor is it about making and carrying out family traditions. It is about remembering this greatest gift of our God: reconciliation with Him through the life of Jesus Christ. It is about allowing that supernova light that is within us to burn with full intensity and so lead others to the Savior, like the star that guided the Magi so long ago.
So, my friends, I have found that I never really lost my Christmas at all. It was simply different this year, and I am incredibly blessed by it. And when the opportunity comes again to be a part of something so much larger than ourselves and our traditions we’ll be ready for it.
Grace and peace to you this Christmas!