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10 / Making merry

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I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord; “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

the CULTIVATING

journal

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

December 10, 2019



 

I love Christmas.  I play Christmas music in September the first time the sky turns that deep blue.  I look forward to Christmas tea parties and elegant Victorian themed dinners and concerts and movies like a five year old.  I shake presents, bake magic, and put boughs and bows on absolutely everything.  I wait by the tree on Christmas Eve ‘til the hearth doesn’t smoke and the candles burn low, holding on to every last glint of Christmas starlight, desperately hoping to hear one last long-resounding echo of angel-song.  I’ve tried and tried to sit up all Christmas Eve holding tightly in my heart that Christ came once before on this night and this might just be the night the heavenly hosts laud His return.  Our return.  I love Christmas, and I make no apologies. 

At Christmastide more than any other season, I try desperately right alongside Mary to treasure up every moment in my heart.

From imagining myself beside the shepherds to cleaning the enormous mess of making gingerbread houses, I cherish it all.  There are more things radiant and glowing and full of beauty found in Christmas than my heart can hold.  Any hint of shadow that surrounds this season for me is only that it doesn’t last quite long enough, that I can’t quite fit all the gatherings and gifts into the amount of time allotted by the calendar, that I might be missing some secret moment of its glory.  Every silvery bell rings not just a clear and lovely note, but a story.  I feel so much pity for fantasy worlds because they don’t have Christmas!  When C.S Lewis wrote the White Witch’s definition of “the worst”, it’s not lost on me that Christmas is banished.  That resonates in my heart, sounding a bit like hell. 

My husband and I have been known to argue regarding a lyric in the carol God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen which reads “This holy tide of Christmas, all others doth deface”.  In his very correct theology, he claims that Easter is to be the most celebrated of all holidays.  While I understand and agree with his theology and even with his “should”, I stand firmly in my conviction that nothing, NOTHING shines brighter than Christmas.

 

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

I am a mischievous, plotting, planning gift giver.  Unashamedly.  I will sneak and save and sew and build and do whatever needs to be done to match a beloved gift with a beloved recipient.  One year, I determined to give each of my brothers a gift that revolved around my favorite memory of them.  It was going well, until I came to brother number three.  He’s a little different, and being quite a bit younger that I am, we didn’t have the same relationship growing up that the rest of us did.  But when I thought about moments of pure joy and silliness, I remembered a Christmas long past at a great uncle’s house.  There was a jukebox in the attic/game room and I recall my little brother dancing shamelessly to Elvis.  He may never admit it, but I saw tears in his eyes over a $3.00 vinyl LP of Blue Christmas from EBay.  I’m a firm believer that the very best gifts are ones that embody a bit of the giver and the receiver in a single package.  A gift should mean something.

Apparently, God believes a bit of that, too.  I’ve pondered long and hard many of the options an all-powerful Creator had at the Garden reprimanding two rebellious children.  He could have started over right then.  Or left us on our own, without hope of any kind. 

We could have justly wandered this dusty world for thousands of years, saturated by sin and death, blinded by darkness, falling and falling with no bottom to hit, in a tailspin of decay.  But instead, knowing the cost, He gave.  

And He didn’t just give part of Him and part of us.  He gave us the only thing that could heal: fully God, fully man.  That gift didn’t just mean something.  It meant everything.  Christ!  Messiah!! Beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased. The entire, only reason that earth hasn’t been a maelstrom of evil!  The hope of every longing heart, whether we knew it or not! 

 

From Creche to Crux

Crux is one of my favorite words of all time.  Every time it is used, regardless of who is declaring it or in what context, it proclaims the Gospel. In modern English, we think of a crux as a defining moment or something that’s a bit of a hang-up, a speed-bump in a well-crafted plan.  Merriam-Webster says it is “the point on which everything turns.”  It comes from the word crucifix, and as a result, for a long time I considered the cross to be the crux, and it’s not a bad image.  But the only reason that the cross of Christ is the crux of life and humanity and truth and goodness and beauty is because it is the cross of Christ

The One on the cross is the crux. 

Whether Jesus is in amniotic fluid being carried to Bethlehem, swaddled in a manger, sleeping in a boat, or raising the dead, He is the point on which all the universe and all of time turn. 

Even for the thousands of years before there was a crèche, the crux of all history was that Messiah would be

Christ would come! We are not abandoned!  There are moments and seasons and years and sometimes lifetimes that fill souls with aching that seem unable to bear.  There is pain here on this earth that feels like it will most certainly break us in two.  Grief and sorrow and regret and loneliness all threaten to smother any beauty and light and hope. 

But this darkened world continues to spin and whirl on its axis, rain and snow falls, springtime and harvest continue all because it is upheld by the hands of one who once upon a time grasped at straws in a manger.

Christmas is and always has been pure, unbounded joy for me.  And I will keep it with joy in sickness or health, for better or worse, as long as I live. I will rejoice that there’s a bottom to land on and that even in the depths of Sheol, He is there.  I will give Christmas in all its ancient, deep-magic-from-before-the-foundations-of-the-world glory to all those around me.   I rejoice that every good and perfect day here is nothing but a shadow of what approaches over the horizon where I really believe, every day will feel a little like Christmas.



The featured image title “December Glory Skies 1” is (c) Lancia E. Smith and used with her glad permission for The Cultivating Project.



 

Jordan Durbin

comments

  1. Lori jean

    December 13th, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Yes yes yes to all of this. ❤️ Happy happy Christmas! 🎄

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