Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

It is two days after Christmas. But as Pastor said Sunday morning, that does not mean we have to stop celebrating the birth of Christ or stop imparting our love and generosity onto the world.

My first Christmas as a believer was beyond monumental. I had holy experiences with my family, with God, Himself, and with my church. One of the moments I will never forget is when we had communion at Christmas Eve service. We did it by tincture (dipping the wafer into the goblet of wine and then partaking in the wafer - to save time and resources) and as I approached the goblet after Pastor had placed the wafer in my cupped hands, I dipped it in slowly, watching the deep red liquid soak into the light wafer...and, inside, I felt generations doing this. People all over the world doing this. It felt very relevant, very real, very symbolic. I have very specific feelings about holy communion, but I will go into that in a later blog entry. Suffice it to say, this communion was a holy one, indeed.

The other holy experience during the Christmas season was when we each lit our individual candles and sang "Silent Night" a Capella. I had done this at numerous churches before this, but for some reason it touched a nerve with me and I immediately began to softly cry. My husband could hear the quiver of my voice and he stepped closer and put his arm around me. No doubt, he thought I was thinking about my mother and missing her - and I was - but these tears were out of humility and awe. Here I was: in God's house, MY church that I will grow up in (for I do see myself as, still, a child in the faith) and I felt unworthy. I felt humbled. I looked around at the pure beauty and was overtaken with gratitude. To think of my "old life" without Christ made me shudder. No wonder I've faltered and flailed through life all this time. I did not have plant spiritual roots. I had no One to hold onto.

I experienced other Christmas "miracles," like my son becoming especially snuggly at Sunday morning service, going to a nearby town's Christmas concert which included a rock-inspired musical story of the Nativity (my four year old performed his first air guitar), working on the poem I wrote for my eldest and my husband collaborating with me on it while he did graphics.

There were challenges and hiccups, too. Times when husband and I were not in good communication and defenses rose up or tempers flared. My father and his wife came up on Sunday and he and I have a definite strained relationship so that was stressful. It was good to see him, though. As you know from previous entries, I'm working on the whole forgiveness thing.
The two younger kids became whiny and irritable at times (well, of course), but husband and I found ourselves reacting in kind, which was not what we wanted to do.

And then the end of Christmas. In days of old, I would sit on the edge of Sunday night, after the holiday, and groan because I either had to go to work the next day or resume regular life and that I bemoaned. I did not realize, then, that I could take the miracle and joy of Christ's birth with me wherever I went - every day. All the razzle-dazzle of the lights, tree, family, presents, got to me in the past and created expectations that were almost always not met and I would feel let-down afterward. This year, I just expected God's presence and I had a wonderful Christmas and even was ready to return to work today.

I received a special present which I will mention now. I had picked out a few dove necklaces online and had shown them to husband in hopes that he would get one for me for Christmas. I felt I needed to wear a dove to show my Christianity instead of a cross. I'm not sure why, maybe because I thought the cross too violent a symbol (as you can see, more advanced Christians, I have a long way to go in understanding the cross and the symbolism. I know it is an ultimately joyful symbol pointing to Jesus' resurrection, but I still see him nailed to it, in agony and pain) to wear. Well, husband said he was sorry, but he didn't get it for me when I asked him. I said that was okay; I would buy it for myself. And I had decided, silently, on the one I wanted. The one with the dove filled with abalone (a beautiful precious stone). I did not tell him this. I accepted that he did not get it for me.

Well, while opening gifts, I took the CD-shaped gift from beneath the tree. On the front of the CD it read, "Bet you think this is a CD." Inside, it read on the left side, "Well, it's not!" and in the CD case was my necklace! The dove filled with abalone! Oh, I cried joyful tears. I don't mean to idolize a piece of jewelry and "use" that as a talisman, of sorts, to stay connected with God...but that's just what I do. I have certain items that connect me with important things and people in my life. The necklace is BEAUTIFUL. I now proudly wear it every day.

So now is that in-between time where Christmas has ended and we are waiting for the New Year. But remember: Christ has not ended. He has just begun. I wish to celebrate Him every day.

Bless you.

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