I read the following quote in a post on one of my favorite blogs, written by Micha Boyett Hohorst—–
“Pious imagination and nostalgic music rob Christmas of its shock value, while some scholars reduce the crib to a tame theological symbol. But the shipwrecked at the stable tremble in adoration of the Christ-child and quake at the inbreak of God Almighty. Because all the Santa Clauses and red-nosed reindeer, fifty-foot trees and thundering church bells put together create less pandemonium than the infant Jesus when, instead of remaining a statue in a crib, he comes alive and delivers us over to the fire that he came to light.”
~Brennan Manning (“Shipwrecked at the Stable” from Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas)
And oh, my do I resonate with that. Faith, and everyday life itself, is pandemonium. We have survived the holidays. I hate using the word “survive” because who likes to believe that the celebration of Christmas should be “SURVIVED”?? But, as much as I love all of the elements….the family, the food, the kids being surprised and excited, the special events, the lights, the Candy Cane Lane tea…it is just a lot. Even in the midst of my extroverted self, I want my own mandated time out some moments. And yet, even in the overwhelming times, it is ALL GOOD in the midst of the messiness.
I had a “moment” on Christmas Day….Matt was preaching and I was reading scripture in the service. And thanks to God’s goodness, aka, Matt’s Mom, we actually made it to church on time and the kids were dressed and we’d eaten breakfast and didn’t even leave the oven on at home on accident.
And I looked at Steve, our head pastor, and jokingly asked if he’d have a flask of Vodka sitting next to my chair in the chancel. I was THAT tired and just done. The service began, though, and I finally breathed. And the moment I’d really been longing and waiting for….a moment of quiet, a time to reflect on it being Christmas, a second to not be surrounded by sweet food and wrapping paper, had arrived. Even though I would have preferred to stay in my jammies and nurse my unfinished coffee and take a slow morning without the need to rush out, it was a moment I needed. A mandate to sloooooooow down. And not just slow down, but also focus on making room for Christ. Even when Christ is messssy! Once Matt’s sermon is posted on the website, I’ll link to it here, but it was such a reminder for me. A reminder that as much as we’d like to take down all the decorations and Christmas mess, or put little baby nativity Jesus back in the tub and stick him up in the attic until next December, well—–it just doesn’t work that way. Jesus thunders, breaks in and yes, creates pandemonium.
So, here’s a few glimpses at our own pandemonium. I have too many pictures from the last few days, but here is a few from Saturday, Sunday and today, Monday.
New Hats for the Cousins from Grandma Judy and Aunt Suzanna
Drew is channeling his inner contemplative lion….
Making it to church, dressed up (pics missing one child in the first, and with Grandma in the second)
Morning presents with the family in jammies
Kermit the Frog puppet fun, Cousin Love, and a New Book for Alex about King Arthur from Uncle James!
Day with Elena!
(including story card telling, homemade gift exchanging and riding to Mars in the “pope mobile” and Alex’s new rocket ship)
As we enter the second half of our 18-day “break”/vacation, I look forward to what the open calendar holds. I hope to have some time to reflect on the Advent activities we did (and didn’t!!) do, look towards 2012 and do some goal setting, get into the upper rafter of the garage and find some of my essential teaching stuff that’s been packed away for four years, celebrate our anniversary, do some major sorting and purging and—no doubt—experience a lot of the unexpected, and a lot of the expected, pandemonium.
Look forward to hearing about many of your past few days too and holding up those of you who are contemplative this season, reflecting on some hard moments and losses in 2011. Holidays can make that tough, so prayers of peace for each of you, no matter what the days ahead hold.
Christmas morning sunrise