Will You Have a Shiny Christmas?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
I don’t want to just survive the holidays, I want to shine.
Don’t you want the season to be different this year? Not as hectic or harried. Not as full of stress and ‘shoulds.’ More purposeful and peaceful. Brighter and more beautiful, but in a low key way.
I’m thinking of words here like simplicity and serenity. You too?
Ready to let go of the debt and duty. Happy to keep the lights and shimmer. In fact, I want every single corner to shine, not necessarily with a designer tree or sequined sweater, but with sweet contentment. In thinking of such possibilities, my heart bursts into praise, “Shine, Jesus shine, Fill this land with the Father’s glory.”
But, of course, my deepest prayer is “Shine on me.”
For until I am filled with that light inside, I can never reflect it to those around me.
“If you have arrived at Advent, at the coming, with doubts, dragging chains of disbelief, disenchantment, and discouragement, welcome. You are not alone. And if you enter this season with a harried heart and a furrowed brow, welcome. You are not alone. If your moanings feel louder than the quiet, subtle hope tucked behind the noise of the world’s Christmas season, then welcome. You are not alone. And that’s the good news, isn’t it? That in this darkness, in this aching nighttime, we are not alone. Christ comes. Christ pierces the darkness with His light.” (Jane Rubietta, “Finding the Messiah”)
One symbolic way our family enjoys keeping the shine in our season is the tradition of lighting candles each day. Advent wreaths can be purchased widely, from simple frames at hobby stores to elaborate ones in gift shops. But all you really need is a circle of four candles and a place in the middle for the Christ candle. Candles can be any color, or you use the traditional colors of three purple/blue and one pink. Each week, a new candle is lit. The first Sunday, we light a purple candle for Hope, the second Sunday another purple candle for Love, the third Sunday the pink candle for Joy, the fourth Sunday a purple candle for Peace and on Christmas Eve the center white candle for Christ. With each lighting, we read Scripture and sing a Christmas carol.
Our dwelling place is God’s presence. Out of that place of refueling and reigniting, we then go forth to mingle with a damaged and desperate culture. “Among these people you shine like stars in the world.” (Philippians 2.15)
I’m looking forward to a Shiny Christmas, how about you?
under the mercy, Cindy
©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell – adapted from Dwelling Places (Abingdon Press)
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