Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Searching for Christmas--Prayer answered

 By Belinda
Tonight was my third Christmas party of the season--our writers group pot luck. Bonnie had made a 2010 Christmas anthology of our writings, which we called The Christmas Quilt. My story was one I posted here in August. After dinner, we gathered in the living room to read out loud, stories that we had brought with us. I had not brought one, but Susan asked me to read the story of mine that was in the anthology. I'm so glad she asked, because when I first read it to the group, just after I wrote it, I read it with a sadness and poignancy that tugged at my heart and those of the listeners. Tonight I read it as a prayer that had been answered and it sounded completely different! I have found Christmas. My heart is at peace; I am not stressed; I am enjoying each and every celebration and every card I open. So, I share it here again--to give you a taste of a summer so recently past while we shiver in the snow--and to say that God is so faithful and true.
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August was hot and steamy. Sweat trickled and tickled down spines and hair clung droopily to heads. I explained to some English guests with a craving for bracing “fresh air,” that flinging open the windows would not help at all. After a few days here they believed me.
I got into the habit of taking late evening walks with Molson, our golden retriever. Normally he bolts from the house like an arrow from a bow, but even he moved slowly on those sweltering August evenings, with the fields surrounding our village buzzing and humming with the rhythmic pulse of insect life, and the intoxicating scent of summer blooms hanging in the still air.
With my senses drenched in summer, I had Christmas on my mind one night late in August. I pondered the next third of the year and wondered how to get it right. Maybe if I started now, I thought, this year I might find the Christmas I long for; because I’m looking for it every year—the one with the joy and the peace the angels talked about.[1]  They appeared suddenly to the shepherds, and just as suddenly they were gone, but I remember their promise, “News of great joy...peace to men on whom his favour rests.”
Jesus said of the Kingdom of heaven, that it “Is like treasure hidden in a field.”[2] That is the perfect metaphor for the treasure that is Christmas too, for it is also hidden, covered with earthiness; the sacred beneath the secular. 
The forces of a powerful enemy work to obscure it. He’s been doing so from the beginning. I mean the very beginning; when he, that old serpent, the first proponent of suggestive selling, said, “See this fruit? You didn’t know you needed it but you can’t live without it. What you have with God? It’s not enough.”
At the root of Christmas Gone Wrong; for me, at least; is the anxiety of “not enough.” Drill down deeper and “I” am not enough; the simplicity of the manger in Bethlehem is not enough; no gift I buy is good enough. The angels’ good news of joy and peace lies buried in a field of the enemy’s innuendo. And I buy into the lie; adding layer upon layer that obscures the simplicity of Original Christmas.
Bethlehem was small; the guest list hardly impressive; the venue was minimalist in the extreme. I am a follower of one born there, who lived his life peacefully and powerfully, unencumbered by entrapments, but my life often does not reflect that so well.

Dusk was falling around me as Molson and I walked home that August night.  I glanced at an old century home on the opposite side of the road. The steep gable of the Presbyterian manse pointed, as if to heaven and from a circular attic window twinkled two tiny lights; one red, the other green.
Forgotten Christmas lights, or a message from God? I choose to believe that he heard my heart cry and was sending a signal back to let me know.
Christmas--it’s a celebration of what happened in Bethlehem, pure and simple and that is so much more than enough. With God’s help I want to live out that truth this year and if I do, I know that I will find the Christmas I am longing for.
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
[3] 


[1] Luke 2:9-14
[2] Matthew 13:44
[3] Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem, verse 4. Rector Phillips Brooks (1835-1903)
Pen and ink drawing of the Presbyterian Manse by Mary Artymko, Bond Head

2 comments:

Dave Hingsburger said...

Where can one get a copy of said book? Did you do just enough for the group or can interested people purchase a copy??

Belinda said...

You shall have a copy!