Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Hidden Life of Advent

As Advent draws to a close this week, I can't help but be thankful for all the blessings that we have enjoyed this season.  Amidst all the glitz and glitter, the largest blessings are often the smallest, most hidden moments.  In my mind, such hidden moments seem to capture just as much, if not more, of the true meaning of the season than the grand productions.

The first Advent was the culmination of 9 months of the Christ Child hiding in His mother's womb.  But despite His 9 months of hiddenness, that first Advent was significant.  Through her everyday moments and actions--her every breath, preparation, heartbeat--Mary grew and provided for her yet-unborn-child, albeit in a very hidden way.  What a amazing gift all of her hidden moments provided for the world when it was time for her to give birth!

In another way, there was a hiddenness to the way that Mary and Joseph bore their circumstances during the Advent season.  All their well-laid plans for a uneventful engagement & marriage were shattered.  There was no special treatment for a pregnant woman and her beloved traveling for the census, no worldly privilege for the job God had given to them.  They bore it all in grace and anonymity, and in time offered the world the greatest gift.

All this brings me comfort as a pregnant woman, mother, relative and friend this Christmas.  For my unborn child, my every moment, breath and heartbeat is significant, a building block toward the rest of his or her life.  Similarly, my quiet moments with my children hold such great importance.  Sitting near our tree before bed, talking about the importance of sharing as we near special time with family, answering their questions about Jesus' birthday story, pointing out Christmas decorations on our daily drives: these quiet, hidden moments add up to a season of lessons, learning and special memories that they may pass along to others someday.

And finally, some encouragement for those of you who, like me, may have had aspects of your Advent that did not go according to plan:  A close friend recently highlighted for me the example of Mary and Joseph, whose well-laid plans for a normal life were drastically changed by a Great God who had a much better Advent plan in mind.  In her eloquent words: 

"Like good St. Joseph, I am finding that my well-laid plans for a quiet Advent have been derailed by a God who is so wise, but sometimes it's hard to understand."

Whether Advent has been less or more than expected, may God bless us all with a renewed trust in His love & plan and the strength to bear every hidden circumstance with grace.  May we make the most of every hidden moment, for there is significance in hiddenness.  May the Lord Jesus be born anew in our hearts and families this precious season.

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