I confess to you openly, dear readers, I am still in the decorating phase of my Advent preparations. And now my progress is impeded by my toe injury, which wouldn’t be a big deal except that my toe is connected to the rest of my body. So I am suffering in solidarity with my big toe today. However, today’s decoration is a favorite of mine, bringing with her lots of memories. Unpacking boxed up Christmas decorations is like pulling out old friends and reconnecting all over again.
Today is no different. Today I pulled out a small, red, green and white striped, china Christmas pixie. She is standing upright and has an expression on her tiny face that while admittedly angelic, belies the fact that she is always up to some Christmas mischief. She has seen a lot of Christmases and I know she could tell me many stories if she were but willing to part with her secrets.
One thing is obvious when I examine her closely. She has been glued back together no small number of times over the years. She still bears the scars, the fault lines where the breaks once occurred. We go back, she and I. This pixie was maybe my first Christmas decoration that was mine alone. I can’t believe I never gave her a name, but I didn’t. I mean she only came to spend time with me one month out of the year. Still, she had her own special place in our house.
It was in the bedroom I shared with my sisters. You see, in addition to the very large, live tree that filled our living room, Mom put a small, glittery white tree on a table in our bedroom. It was a real pine tree that had been sprayed and put on a stand. It was probably about four feet tall. It was beautiful, all glitterey, with a magic all its own. When silver icicles (remember those?) were added to her branches she became even more lovely, if that were possible. And the best part? For a tree skirt, Mom put down a roll of cotton batting (I guess) smooth and full of glitter on its surface. It was on this soft, glittery tree skirt that my Christmas pixie was placed each December, to hang out under the glittery white tree and keep watch over me.
So today, as I pull out my Christmas pixie, I am filled with memories of childhood Christmases. There was something else special about our little, white glitter pine tree. After Christmas, mom would set it outside in the backyard in the snow, with food hanging from its branches for the birds. Then we would watch and wait to see which birds showed up. The thing is, as I write this, I am remembering bacon hanging from the branches. But birds don’t eat bacon, do they? Sometimes memories from early childhood are not all that accurate. My pixie is the keeper of these secrets and she is silent for now.
When I set out my Christmas pixie, I am connected to my Mom and sisters and Christmases past. Advent is about remembering and about connection. We are remembering that first Christmas, Jesus come to dwell with us for awhile. And in the remembering we are connected to all who rejoice with us at His birth, knowing that a way back to God has been given. The whole world celebrates God’s gift of His Son, together.
Something else we do together is wait for His return. We are remembering and rejoicing while waiting with eager expectation for Christ’s return. Christmas is a celebration of both events. One has already taken place, the other is yet to come.
That first celebration was a small one, shared only by shepherds, angels and wise men. The rest of the world would find out later just who Jesus is. Here’s how that first celebration of Advent happened –
“And there were Shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. . . . Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rest.’ ” (Luke 2:13-14)
Heaven was already rejoicing at Jesus’s birth. It would take a number of years before we, the slumbering people of earth, would join the angels in their celebration. But we would come around eventually, when we came to understand what the angels already knew. The living Word had become flesh and come to live with us for awhile.
This is no small thing. Consider what 2 Corinthians 8:9 tells us about this miracle of Christmas.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your (my) sakes He became poor, so that you (I) through His poverty might become rich.”
Philippians 2:6-11 sums up the Christmas story in these words, saying that Jesus –
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
That’s the miracle of Christmas – that the Creator of the universe, being limitless in every aspect of His being, entered into our limited world of time and space, taking on our physical limitations and time and space constraints as His own. The angels were rejoicing on the night of Jesus’s birth because they knew God had brought salvation to His people at last!
During this Advent season, we prepare to receive Jesus all over again. Perhaps other things have been crowding out Jesus’s place and presence in my life. Now is the time for me to clean house and to make room for Him all over again.
“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)
Jesus has come! Jesus is coming! prepare ye the way of the Lord!
sincerely, Grace Day