by Stephanie Burley
Advisory Member, Women of Worth Committee The season is in full swing. Lights are twinkling, holiday tunes are filling the air waves, and department store advertisements are fighting each other for space in my mailbox. As I look through the thirty-one days of December in my calendar, I realize the hours are quickly filling with legitimate obligations. Taking a moment to do the math, I conclude that this is not only going to be a busy month, it will also be a pretty expensive one. Then I begin the list of my self-imposed expectations: I will actually bake for the annual women’s meeting cookie exchange, as opposed to buying cookies and arranging them on a tray (who really believed I created those little masterpieces anyway?). I will not drop my Christmas cards in the church exchange box seconds before distribution begins (or sheepishly and apologetically take them to the distribution room just as the assembly line has finished sorting and stacking). I will have every gift wrapped and under the tree no later than five days before Christmas Eve (I may or may not be the mom who, right in the middle of gift-giving, remembers that one of the kiddo’s gifts is still buried in the hall closet – in the shopping bag). This is the year I will make Christmas magic for my family, my friends, and my ministry. This is the year.
As I continue my mental wish list, my thoughts are interrupted with the sounds of Nat King Cole’s "Silver Bells" and I’m transported into a world of holiday perfection. Oh, if only I could stay for awhile! Suddenly, my trip is cut short by a little voice that says, "Mommy, I need you now!" Reality replaces the Christmas fantasy and I quickly tend to the needs at hand, still hoping and praying that this will be the year I can finally make it all happen.
Then, all at once, I’m overwhelmed by the realization that over 2,000 years ago, the most miraculous and perfect Christmas did happen! It really had nothing to do with home baked cookies, designer cards, or Nat King Cole. The Saviour of the world was born! He came in human flesh to set the stage for the redemption of the human race. The circumstances were dire. This was no Norman Rockwell rendering. Jesus’ birth was humble and lowly. His mother was young, innocent and scared, but she was chosen for that time to fulfill an important role in this unfolding storyline that would forever change the course of history. She is widely respected and remembered today for her virtue and her complete abandonment to God’s will for her life.
When I examine the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, I am inclined to adjust my priorities. God has given me an important role, as well. I need to be a reflector of the Light this season. My family, my friends, and my ministry need to see the message of Christmas lived through my humility and self-sacrifice. If I create the perfect Christmas, no doubt I will miss the opportunities that come from imperfection. I will walk away empty, not because I have poured myself out for others, but because I have attempted to satisfy myself with temporal festivities, rather than being filled by the One whose birth we celebrate.
If previous Christmases have left you feeling unfulfilled, join me in making this year one of awe and worship. Relax and rejoice in the reality of Christmas!
- originally printed in Pilgrim News & Notes, the online publication of the
Pilgrim Holiness Church, Inc.