When Christmas…and Joy…Are Near

It is five days until Christmas and the sun sinks lower and fast. Shadows begin just after noon and I am running low on candles.

They race to plug in the Christmas lights and I race to get everything done and they do what I used to do and they try and wish the days to race faster.

I just want them to slow down.

The youngest, the smallest, the one who this time last year stretched my skin taut, she stands shaky and takes that first step to the cheers of her daddy and braves 5 steps from table to dishwasher to the tears of her mama.

This is our last *first* Christmas.

The Wise Men Three come with me to the espresso machine in the early hours – I assume they must be weary as well. Maybe the aroma of ground coffee beans will be just the kick they need. They started their journey December 1st around our home and soon they’ll find rest and the babe and the little ones won’t frantically search for the Searchers each morning.

We light candles in the evening as we read of The Word in His Word and we read of the wait for His first coming and my eyes are opened a bit more to the tension as we wait for His second.

Those Three Kings searched with their eyes on the skies and I have found myself searching with eyes on tissue typed words…

The weeks of Advent have been intentional this year and as we entered into this week of Joy, I assumed that is what I would easily find – only, before there is to be Joy, there first needs to be a revealing…and as we draw nearer to the solstice, when the day will be shortest and the night longest the contrast between light and dark becomes ever clearer as one wick is ignited and then another into the hungry and surrounding shadows.

And His light – it is what He does – reveals the deepest and the darkest places in us that need examining. Lifts that curtain on hidden sin and pierces deeply.

Then waits expectantly.

Tuesday found me sitting with Nehemiah as he and Ezra and the priests and elders stood before and among the Israelites and read from the Torah – heavy words weighted down with all of the places they had fallen short.

They wept.

They were grieved.

They were failures.

And it is here that I realized that until there is deep and true repentance, Joy remains elusive. Until there is a turning from, there is never a turning up of the corners of a mouth or a lightness in the heart.

Nehemiah, he saw the grief and he knew the solution,

And Nehemiah, who was <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(L)”>the governor, and Ezra <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(M)”>the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(N)”>“This day is holy to the Lord your God; <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(O)”>do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”>send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Q)”>they had understood the words that were declared to them. Nehemiah 8:9-11

I think of Mary, whose skin stretched tight with her Savior and who held His newborn skin close. The mama who clapped for God-in-the-flesh as He took His first wobbly steps across a dusty floor. The mama whose first born Son knew her before she ever was and she cradled Him in her arms and ached for days to slow by.

Ached as He was beaten.

Broke as He was nailed to a tree.

Wept as He died for her,

for me,

for you.

It’s five days until Christmas and the One Who came as Mary’s Firstborn, God as Babe – He came to be with us. To take on our skin and break the curse that courses through our sin-caked veins.  That tender, fragile Infant, born into the filth of a stable, He took on all our filth and became The Way for us to come Home.

But first, I sit with the Baby. I sit and I wonder at a limitless God Who took on the limitations of our dust and I hold on to the sureness of Him.

And I find Joy is His nearness…


You came as Mary’s Firstborn. You came close and You took on the form of a small and helpless Babe.

Thank You. God Who flung the galaxy in space and created silky grass and the blue of the sky, You came near to be born, to fill lungs with our air and Your heart beat in time with our own.

You reveal the dark places in me and You, Light of the world break the curse of sin and darkness and You strengthen me with joy as I turn from and learn in towards You.

Thank you for coming, for coming to rescue us who are desperately lost without You.  

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