When my children were small, I acquired an advent wreath which quickly became part of our Christmas Celebration. The four weeks of advent were times when we would gather around the table to light a candle, read a devotion and sing a carol. What I should tell you though, is that singing has never been a favorite part of most of my children’s lives. My middle child’s three older brothers would often complain that she was singing too much, which of course, would only make her sing more. We compromised on the issue of singing with a rule that she could not sing at the table. This seemed to control some of the irritations of her brothers, while also allowing her to sing as much as she wanted away from the supper table.
One year, I decided to record our advent devotions for posterity, so that in later years we could listen to that time in their childhood. All was going well with the recording. Children were behaving and we had begun to sing a carol, when my number three child started to shout, “No singing at the table. No singing at the table.” He screamed at the top of his lungs, “No singing at the table.”
As you can probably guess, that was not the picture of family life which I had meant to preserve, nor the way I had hoped the devotions would touch my children. Our lives rarely reflect the perfect world we yearn for. Our plans are disrupted, our visions of holiday cheer put on hold. We struggle with economic and emotional factors. Our world is touched by wars, global warming, horrific fires, floods and hurricanes. Tragedies are an all too familiar story on the nightly news. Personal losses cause our hearts to bleed. Our communities are fractured with dissension. The sentiment of Christmas seems out of place in a world such as ours.
The power of Christmas is in the gift of the Christ child, who entered a world not known for kindness. A child who came as a gift for all people, especially the imperfect ones. We celebrate one who came to live among us, share our journey and lead us on an adventure of faith. In the weeks ahead we will remember how this Jesus we celebrate began life in a stable. He was forced to leave the land of his birth because of violence, living as a refugee in a foreign land. We celebrate Jesus, born of humble circumstance, destined to be King of kings and Lord of lords. The scriptures say of Jesus that he came “to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death.” Luke 1:79
Wherever you might find yourself as we enter Advent, may you be touched by the one, who knows our hurts and shines in all the dark corners of our world.