Indeed, we are. Moving towards Christmas, that is. By day on the calendar. By outward signs of decorations, cards, and presents. By recounting our history.
Today we are in the second week of our book group discussion of Ann Voskamp’s Christmas devotional, The Greatest Gift.
For those of us who read all seven readings in one sitting the first time through, did it strike you how much history was reviewed and woven into preparing for Christmas? Noah, Abram, Sarah, Abraham and Issac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Each name, each story adding to the Christmas mosaic. We tend to cheapen this season, don’t we, by starting with Mary and Joseph. It’s a bit like assuming our own families only started to exist when we graced the scene.
I also appreciated this week the range of realities expressed. Whether in a flood of pain, a season of blessing and laughter, a subplot that makes no sense on the surface, a time of clear and obvious provision, a sense of being clearly pursued by love, or far enough along in the journey to see pieces woven together, we ARE located in this story, aren’t we? Christmas is so much more than mushy feelings. It’s the reminding of our history and locating ourselves, wherever that may be, in it.
I think I enjoyed the quotations she ended each day with more than Ann’s thoughts. In particular, I been thinking about these two:
You have as much laughter as you have faith. Martin Luther
It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when it’s mighty Founder was a child himself. Charles Dickens.
I hadn’t thought about the relationship between faith and laughter. We’re familiar with the scripture linking a joyful heart being good medicine, but somehow I’ve more frequently gotten the message that laughter and faith aren’t linked. Certainly not in opposition to one another. More like guests at a party that don’t know each other. Both are welcome and belong at the party, but they don’t interact much. Did anyone else notice that Ann’s title for that day was Laugh! and it’s the only one with any punctuation? Almost like a command.
On day seven Ann wrote, “You don’t need to climb mountains named I Will Perform. You don’t need to climb mountains named I Will Produce.” Freedom sisters! What other mountains do we not need to climb? (I know some we can’t avoid, like climbing laundry mountain, wink.)
Here are a few of the reflection questions from this week:
- In what ways has God been an ark in the midst of your own floods?
- What are some ways you can be a blessing to others?
- When was the last time you laughed … really laughed?
- Like the angels, what ca you take more lightly this Christmas?
- When do you feel the pressure to perform, to produce?
And I’ll add one more for the comment section, who do you identify most with this Christmas season? Noah, Abram, Sarah, Abraham and Issac, Jacob, Joseph, or Moses? Are you in a flood of pain, a season of blessing and laughter, a subplot that makes no sense on the surface, a time of clear and obvious provision, a sense of being clearly pursued by love, or far enough along in the journey to see pieces woven together,
How are you doing … moving towards Christmas? Get a cup of something warm or cool to drink and let’s talk. What stood out to you as you read?