This month I’ve been posting about Holiday Traditions. You’ve heard about my daddy’s annual Christmas poem, our Elf on the Shelf, Christmas Pajamas, and how fun it is to make tasty treats with the kids. It has been fun sharing these little glimpses into our family with you. Even though family traditions vary from family to family, they are what makes the season of Christmas what it is, to an extent.
The most important tradition of holiday preparation for our family is without a doubt the season of advent and the true reason that we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus.
This year I have been so busy with life and work and the flurry of activities related to Christmas that I haven’t spent as much time as I wanted preparing my heart for Christmas.
Until this Sunday at church.
It was the second weekend in a row where weather put a kink in our weekend plans. The children’s Christmas program which had been postponed from the previous weekend was postponed again. The service was still beautifully and simply put together.
We sang familiar Christmas hymns.
We heard a simplistic message that is Christmas: God chose ordinary people to proclaim an extraordinary event. He used the most common, shepherds, a carpenter and his bride-to-be, a manger in a barn – to proclaim the birth of a baby that would one day save the world.
This is the true meaning of Christmas to me.
The gifts are fun, but they are merely a symbol of the best gift we have ever been given. The gift of grace and peace and salvation that comes only through Jesus.
The food is delicious. It is even more fun when consumed or prepared with family and friends.
The memories are sweet. They are a healing balm for your soul when it is weary and worn from life and stresses and struggles.
But oh the real message of Christmas. That God came to earth as a baby to save the lowest of the low, the outcasts, the sinners, the unclean, the unchurched, the unloved: you and me.
The familiar verses that we sing at Christmas always get to me. So poetic, so familiar, and still so meaningful. One of my favorites is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. When I was a little girl we would go as a family to the Atlanta Symphony to their Christmas program with music led by conductor Robert Shaw. The music from the chorus and orchestra set the tone for the season, and when we departed it was Christmas to us.
This song still sets the stage for Christmas for me. I had to include it here for you because it still gives me chills. Please listen to the clip below. Close your eyes, turn up your speakers (after the obligatory commercial of course…), and prepare your heart for Christmas.
Mine is finally there.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Do you have a favorite Christmas hymn? Tell us about it in the comments below or in the Graceful Mess Facebook Group.