Is this pathetic, or what?photo-70

I think the day I take down our Christmas tree is the saddest day of my year.  I may have mentioned once.  Or fifty bazillion times to my family.

photo-4I don’t want to pack up the glow of starlight and holy mystery, the delight of twinkle lights and tingly anticipation of bright wrapping and all the lovely things.

There is no better story than this long-awaited birth.  I don’t want to stop thinking about ordinary but devoted Mary pondering “plan B”, or Joseph responding to the holy interruption that turned his world upside-down.  I love imagining the crazy-plain and teenaged shepherds wearing eau de crap, on hillsides invited the event of the millennium.  I don’t want to stop celebrating Jesus’ arrival in a humble place like Bethlehem.

Putting things away is such a mark of endings, while Jesus is the celebration of new beginnings that I love.  It seems like a death when my One Word is LIFE. (You can still join Awakeners opting in and post your One Word here if you want!)

So when our tree is dead and the boughs are browning and the world is encased in ice like a corpse, how do we continue to choose life?

A friend sent me this quote:

“The true meaning of Christmas is found in the sharing of one’s graces in a world in which it is so easy to become cold, insensitive and hard.  Once this spirit becomes part of life, every day is Christmas and every night is freighted with the dawning of fresh and perhaps holy adventure.” H Thurmond

Choosing life means we choose grace.  We return again and again to the manger where Life and Light arrived on Christmas, not because we earned it but because it showed up when we least expected it and didn’t deserve it.  We accept the gift and share it with others.

When I think of this Christmas choice I think of a mentor named Coke.  She and her pastor husband were much maligned and criticized by a bitter old man in the church where we served many years ago, but one of the images I store of her in my memory is when I walked into a concert being held in the church basement.  There was Coke, sitting next to her “enemy”, leaning in and listening to him with love and attention in her eyes.  She was extending grace, and celebrating Christmas in that everyday moment.

Right now, what is one significant relationship in your life?  Hard or easy.  A spouse or a friend. A mother-in-law or a fiancé.  Got someone in mind?

What would it look like to extend grace to them and celebrate Christmas again today?  Offering an apology from the deepest part of you?  A word of affirmation, encouragement or forgiveness?  A secret act of service?  A listening ear?

“Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” 2 Cor. 13:5

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