Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went…
The Christmas of my childhood was always peaceful. We were a military family living overseas, so there was no family to visit. I’m an only child, so the only Christmas list my parents read was mine. Christmas Eve was spent at a solemn candlelight service and we children whispered excitedly about all that St. Nicholas might bring. After the goodies were opened that next morning my dad would go to work, my mother would work around the house, and I spent the rest of the day playing with my new Barbie “friends”. It was a day that revolved around the familiarity of not being moved. And I loved it.
Fast forward many years and I marry Brad. With one “I do” my precious Christmas routine became a dizzying frenzy of Christmas Eve spent with one side, sometimes until midnight! The next morning was spent unwrapping presents with just our new family, and as soon as possible so we would go to the in-laws and unwrap more presents to immediately drive to the other side of town to eat more food and unwrap more presents with that family. I hated it!
Every year I would tell myself I was not going to complain. I was not going to tell Brad yet again how much I hated the circus of frenzy. But as the season approached my toes dug in and my fists clenched. And every year, without fail (Maybe I get points on consistency? No?) I would vent to my dear husband about how much I deeply hated my Christmas traditions (partly those that revolved around my peace and quiet) being wrung out and thrown away.
Now, after twelve years of marriage, I see a few things. First, the two of us could have worked out a better compromise of the two family traditions marrying in unity. Second, why not celebrate our quiet Christmas in the silence of December 26th? (I mean, hello!) Thirdly, I must not have taken Proverbs 25:24 to heart: It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
Well, the already large family grew larger over the years and the unfortunate drama that often pits brothers against brothers reared its ugly head, and now we meet with only the in-laws Christmas morning. And I grieve.
Wouldn’t it figure that view it all differently?
These families I met with during the Christmas season were saturated by “good” people rested in their “goodness” and religious traditions seeped in dust instead of conviction. Brad and I, be it light-seasoned Christians that we were at the time, were invited every year into their home to celebrate Christmas! We ate at the same table together while the token manger sat in the distance and I missed the opportunity!
But hope is not lost! This Christmas, I pray, I will celebrate the Season of Opportunity. I will ask the gracious God of New Beginnings for chances. Would that I look at the ever-growing Christmas list as a chance to deeply bless those on it rather than getting the biggest bang for the smallest buck.
This year my toes will dig in once again, but this time to take a stand against apathy and self-centeredness, and I might just sing out loudly, “Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the new born King, peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!,”
…And there was an Ethiopian… He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and hear him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Acts 8:26-30