Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Adherents of xmas are exhausted and over-extended, but Christmas worshippers are joyful. Are you rushing or feasting?" - CS Lewis

This Christmas was different than any other I've had; for the first time ever, I was not in Illinois with my family. (One more step into adulthood.) As the days leading up to Christmas passed, I found myself a little nervous about the holiday. What would I do? Would I spend the day alone? Would I regret not going back to Illinois? Would it actually feel like Christmas? But, once again I was shown that worrying is useless because He works all things together for our good. 

Christmas Eve morning I spent time mulling over the Christmas story and was especially captivated by Luke's account of Mary's perspective; it's funny how something you've heard your entire life can reveal itself to you in new ways. After being Skyped into both family Christmases, I prepared for our Christmas Eve service in the Common Ground chapel. Despite the pouring rain, an intimate crowd gathered there, and as the last minutes until Christmas day ticked away, we rose our collective voices in song and liturgy and shared the Elements. It was beautiful.  

And then it came, Christmas day. I awoke to a quiet and empty house - no Christmas parade blasting on the t.v., no little brother jumping on me to get me to come open presents, no smell of Jesus' birthday cake baking in the oven...just quiet. It was weird. I must admit, I started the day feeling a little sorry for myself. Silly, I know. But then something really wonderful happened - I got to play Santa's helper, delivering presents throughout Cedar Grove; through the generosity of the community of people who love and support Common Ground we were able to provide gifts to 19 of our neighbor families (totaling 67 individuals). As we made our way from house to house, I was overwhelmed with joy. Over and over again, I got to hear the gratitude in parents' voices, feel the love in the hugs, see the excitement and surprise on the kids' faces - I'm not sure it gets any better than that. It was, without a doubt, the best Christmas I have ever had. 

This Christmas proved unconventional: I didn't open presents, but man did I receive some awesome gifts. I wasn't with people I'm related to, and yet, I was most definitely still among family. Everything was different, but every part of this season was so beautiful. I was blessed with a new perspective this year. Most importantly, this Christmas season I stopped and remembered to "rejoice exceedingly with great joy" (Matthew 2:10), and I hope you were able to do the same. 

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