by Geraldine Ann Marshall (author of Spider’s Gift: A Christmas Story)
Creator of all, thank you for everyday miracles: for spider webs shining with rainbows, for golden honey on warm biscuits, and for cricket symphonies. And thank you for the greatest miracle of all: the birth, life, death, and resurrection of your Son, Jesus. Help us to know your miracles in our lives and to share our gifts with everyone we meet. (Spider’s Gift: A Christmas Story)
In Advent, we are waiting: waiting for a special present we’ve ordered to come in the mail, waiting for a sale for the latest toy or teen fad, waiting for cards from friends and relatives we only hear from at Christmas, waiting for the right day to put up the Christmas tree or make cookies, waiting for family to come home.
Of course, throughout each day of waiting, we are waiting for the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the day when we will finally put the baby in the manger in our Nativity sets, the day when we celebrate Jesus always being in our hearts. No doubt, we will strive, wherever we are in our lives to #PutJesusFirst: to remember why we are buying gifts and baking cookies: to share both our gifts and the gift of Jesus with others.
But sometimes, the days of waiting while doing are not easy to balance with our desire to #PutJesusFirst, to do what He would have us do. No matter our roles in life, we are likely to find this season either hectic or disappointing and lonely in moments—perhaps both at the same time. As I shopped last year, the sight of a Christmas angel that I knew my dear friend, Peggy, would have loved would give me a moment of joyful remembrance of our happy Christmases and a pang of grief that she was no longer on this earth to share them with me. Seeing rows of velvet dresses for little girls makes me both smile and yet feel a moment of sweet sadness that my own little girls are now young women—and gratitude for the wonderful women they have become.
Seeing my 90-year-old mom struggling more and more to breathe, to walk, to find joy makes me wonder how many Christmases we have left. There are some days a heavy sense of waiting for a doctor’s visit that might offer help with her arthritis pain, for a medication to work, or for inevitable further development of aging. I try to turn this over to God, but so often take it right back to worry over while I go on with the tasks of preparation and hopes for celebration.
Others are struggling with illness, lost jobs, loneliness, with not having any family to come home or to go home to visit. For some, when those Christmas lights come on, they want to flee back to just ordinary rooms.
So, whether we feel harried yet anticipate joyfully throughout Advent, or whether we struggle to find joy, what might we do to #PutJesusFirst?
This is when we can pray to see the everyday miracles of all days, to find and share that joy of all of God’s miracles and that greatest gift Jesus in the simplest moments. As we hum a carol out of tune, we can rejoice that all of God’s creatures, even crickets, have a song to share. As we puzzle over finding the right gift, we can remember that God has given even ordinary spiders the ability to weave the masterpiece of a spider’s web. Marvel that God has given this small creature a gift of strong beauty to share. Whether we have children or not, whether little ones in our lives are young with Christmas wonder, skeptical teenagers, or grown into their own lives, we can look on those babies we see now as the miracles we hope each parent, aunt, grandparent knows they are, to remember that each of us has been such a baby.
We can take a moment from anything else to think on Mary as a new mother keeping, treasuring, so much in her heart even as she cared minute by minute for her child. We can rejoice in the simplest of meals, remembering how God has provided wheat or fruit or even honey for not just physical nourishment but as a reminder of giving us love as each drop of milk a mother gives a child is a great pearl of her love. Sometimes the pearl seems lost or perhaps it even seems to have lost its luster, but love is there for us, waiting to be softly polished, when we seek it in Jesus—the gift we can both cherish and share no matter the season, without any waiting.
About the author: Geraldine Ann Marshall is the author of Spider’s Gift: A Christmas Story, published by Pauline Books and Media. You can also visit her at www.Amazon.com/author/gerrymarshall or on Facebook under Gerry Ann Marshall.