On Sunday night, Bruce and I celebrated the 12th night of Christmas by sitting on the living room sofa, listening to some quiet Celtic music, turning out all the lights save the Christmas tree, lighting some candles, finishing the last of the eggnog, and enjoying the tree and the decorated house for the last time.
“What stands out in your memory about Advent and the Christmas season?” he asked. Because I hadn’t yet reflected on the fullness of the season, memories began to pour out of my mind and heart at such a rapid rate that, while none “stood out,” together the overall effect brought tears to my eyes and blessed me with a sense of God’s presence in all of life. My mind began to categorize the jumble of memories that were flooding its “inbox.”
1) Worship memories: Handel’s Messiah, “Telling It,” the decorated sanctuary, sharing and shedding some tears at the Longest Night Service, the glow of candles on Christmas Eve, singing Advent and Christmas Carols, hearing again the story of Jesus’ birth.
2) Family memories: staying up way too late on Christmas Eve, “skyping” Sam(who is in New Zealand) and setting the computer on the chair where he traditionally sits for opening presents (and shedding a few tears from missing him), many nights and days of game playing with Bruce and Allison and Jonathan, trying out some new Christmas breakfast recipes and agreeing that next year we would go back to the traditional “tried and true” breakfast menu, getting snowed in, making phone calls and road trips to connect with extended family.
3) Church memories: Christmas caroling, visiting many of our amazing homebound members, much laughter at Sunday school class, staff, and choir parties, the personal journaling that came out of the Advent Bible study.
4) Prayer memories: for you, for those who struggle to remain hopeful, for the victims of gun violence everywhere, for the leaders of nations, for peace.
The house is now back to “normal,” but I am going to keep these Advent and Christmas memories in my “inbox” for a while longer, because they, indeed, remind me of God’s sustaining presence in all of life. Indeed, “God is with us.” God’s light shines! Of that, I am sure.