By Charlotte Gleason
Growing up, I viewed the arrival of Christmas as an opportunity to fill my already full social calendar. My role as a pastor’s daughter assured me of several anticipated events: dinner invites served with Lancaster County hospitality, a guaranteed solo during the annual Christmas Eve service, and cash from relatives who no longer knew what to give an adolescent. I loved Christmas for the added activity.
After my husband and I moved to upstate New York, we still traveled to Pennsylvania to partake in the Christmas Eve service. I continued to look forward to the giving and getting, the fast pace of the season. But in 2005, I sat in the candlelight service with my hands on my belly, feeling the movements of our first child. For the first time, the significance of Christ’s advent resonated with me. The prior year, I feared I would never conceive. Looking back, I realize my fears were premature, but the months of disappointment had slowed me down to a single focus: a child. As I sat in the dim light of the service, I focused on not only the child within me, but the child who saved humanity. As cliché as it sounds, I began to think of Mary, a young mother waiting, willing to be “the bondslave of the Lord” (Luke 1:38).
My husband can attest to my obsession with the Amy Grant Christmas album, and I am not sure how often I sung “Breath of Heaven” on Christmas Eve, but for the first time I admired Mary. She may have questioned “if a wiser one should have had [her] place,” but Mary accepted the honor and the necessity of this birth. She focused on this birth in spite of chaos around her – an almost divorce, a decree for a census, and an overcrowded inn. And as much as this season produces celebration and activity, the advent reminds me to seek quiet – to be undisturbed as I remember the arrival of my Savior and anticipate His return.
I admit this advent season I find myself attempting to keep up with the world’s pace for Christmas. Unfortunately, apprehension often replaces the quiet I seek. This season becomes a list of items to add to my “to do” list. But I am challenged to remember the miracle. I am challenged to break from laboring as the Shepherds did, focus on a single star as the wise men did, and treasure Christ’s advent as Mary did.
*Amy Grant. “Breath of Heaven.” Home for Christmas. RCA Studios, 1992. CD.