Sunday, November 27, 2011


In Sunday school this morning we began an advent study called Prepare Ye for a New Advent of God's Love in Our World by John & Adrienne Carr. It's really not as dry as the title would have you think.  At any rate, we shared some Christmas memories, good and bad, and also discussed what we thought was disturbing about the way that Christmas is celebrated.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, hands down. I love the cold weather that causes everyone to want to hibernate and forces us all to spend more time with our families. I really enjoy the music, the chance to bake, and decorating the house for Christmas. After a fast-paced fall Christmas offers a chance to slow down a little - even while visiting with friends and families.

More than anything, though, I long to revel in the holiness of this season. The season of advent is when we remember our ancestors, who waited expectantly for Jesus, while we ourselves anticipate the second advent of Christ. I find myself wondering whether or not our family takes the time to embrace the holiness of Christmastime.

During Sunday school time this morning I found a myriad of special Christmas memories coming to the surface as others in class shared their own Christmas recollections. There are definitely gifts I remember; the Glamour Gals Dreamboat, a handmade doll that looked like me, Atari game system, a black felt hat that was so cool. My other memories aren't as tangible but are much more significant. Picking out my dress for Christmas Eve, helping decorate the tree and house, sounds of my mother cooking late at night as she prepared for a family get-together, going to the eleven o'clock candlelight service with my dad, and the way the world seemed more quiet in December are some of my most vivid remembrances.

Intermixed with all of those pleasant memories are the more difficult times. My first Christmas as a newlywed was one of the most challenging times for me. Lee and I had only been married for 9 days and were attempting to incorporate every single one of the traditions we had grown up with into our first Christmas, which made for a very cranky new wife. It all seemed so complicated, yet when I look back at the pictures I remember that as a simple time. There were Christmases when our budget had nothing and we didn't know how gifts would be purchased or gas bought to pay for the trip home, yet we always had what we needed and arrived where we wanted to be.  The Christmas that was to be my father-in-law's last Christmas is especially significant now, even though at the time we didn't think much of it. In fact, we were exhausted by the time we got to his house.  The kids were done in, the gifts still needed to be wrapped, and we got no sleep. Looking back, I'm so glad that we inconvenienced ourselves.

All of these memories - the sad and joyful - all combine to make Christmas such a poignant time of year.

I am starting to think that all of my worrying about making the season of advent a holy time is unnecessary.  I believe that the picture I had created in my mind of holiness looks nothing like what holiness is. Holiness can exist in our home during hectic as well as peaceful times. Holiness really is about the state of our hearts. I had forgotten that the Holy One was born in this world to a very young woman without 'spiritual credentials' in the midst of a stable. I had forgotten that the Holy One was raised in this world only to die, naked and beaten, for me on a cross next to criminals. With Christ at the center anything can become holy - even me.

This advent season as I prepare to layer on some more Christmas memories to my already deep ones I am coming to realize that Jesus has been there with me at every moment. During my times of sadness, frustration, joyfulness, frenziness, and peacefulness Jesus has been with me whether I recognized Him or not.  Looking back on the Christmas Eve services at church I can remember that I felt holy as I held the candle and sang. I truly felt set apart by God. In my child's mind, though, I believed that the candle declared me holy and the darkness was simply for mood. I see now, more clearly every year, that the candle is Him and that I am the dark and that true holiness comes from that knowledge.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. 
All things came into being through him, and without him
not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
He was in the world, and the world came into being though him;
yet the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who received him, who believed
in his name, he gave power to become the children of God, 
who were not born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh 
or the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father's only son,
full of grace and truth.
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
The law indeed was given through Moses; 
grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart,
who has made him known. (John 1:1-18)

May we all truly know Him.


  1. I love Christmas, too. Such a great holiday!

    I appreciate your desire for holiness not just in December, but through your life. You are an inspiration to me! :D

  2. Thanks, Kara. Now pass the tissues please.

  3. Sarah - Christmas really is kind of magical, isn't it? I am honored to think that I inspire you, truly. Heather - so glad that my 'revelation' was meaningful to you.It was definitely one of those divine moments today when I thought about this.

  4. my favorite christmas was the year i had my surgery yet still insisted we go to my dads house haha what a nightmare and absolutely a time i should have listened to you lol and the best was my dad wondering why i sat in a chair the whole time, didn't move and looked so bad, surely we told him hahaha

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  6. great insight, kara...He is the light...and we have to hold onto Him. it is a comfort to know we CANT be holy without matter how hard we try, going to services, holding candles, keeping traditions...His grace is sufficient
    Happy Holy-days (pun intended)