It’s almost Christmas.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, very closely followed by Thanksgiving, both of which I love because of family and tradition and circling up to appreciate the people around us. My grandma loved Christmas in a serious way, and I miss her a little bit extra when the Christmas lights start going up and Christmas music starts playing.

christmas 1954 1

This year is my first not in my parents’ house; I don’t have a tree yet, it’s foggy and warm outside with no sign of snow, I haven’t watched Elf or White Christmas.

It doesn’t look like Christmas yet. But in our new home, we’re trying to focus on what Advent means. We’re trying to focus on what Christmas is really about (thanks, Linus and Charlie Brown) and we’re trying to focus on how to open our hearts to God and be ready to celebrate. I love my church, but I love Christmas told from candlelight services and acoustic hymns and we have plans to go to smaller churches this season.

Our small group started reading Luke and I love how God showed off Jesus first to faithful people and people who are completely normal. The shepherds out in the fields with the sheep are surrounded by angels and singing and basically something that’s unimaginable and totally cinematic.

Luke 2 8-14

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. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

I’m trying to build practices in my life of cultivating more thankfulness and prayer and being aware of God in all of it. I know that God can break the quiet night with angels singing, but I’m working on being aware of God in those quiet bits too. It’s easy for me to get caught into the noise and the jingle bells and potlucks and not give any time to preparing my heart for what a miracle this season truly celebrates.

So I want both. I want both the open heart for God and his story and the celebration of family and tradition. I want to turn away from the frenetic and toward the peaceful.


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