“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” - Psalm 119:105
When I was a child my mother would set up an Advent wreath in the middle of our dinner table every year at the beginning of the Advent season. I loved that we would light the candles as the weeks passed and brought us to Christmas Day. The excitement would build until us kids were giddy with anticipation. I loved this ritual so much that I continued this tradition with my own children. However, as a parent, it became more of a stressful experience as we lighted each candle, counting off the weeks until Christmas. I felt the pressure of shopping, finding the perfect gift for each person, staying within the budget, decorating the house and tree, baking cookies, writing cards, preparing holiday meals. All of this was in addition to my work and caring for my family. Over the years I stopped setting up the Advent wreath. It had lost its wonder for me.
Recently while quarantined for two weeks, I decided to clean out an old metal file cabinet with four drawers, which I have had for many years. Now that I am retired I knew I needed to do some purging. These drawers held notes from classes taken years ago, files of information about topics and activities of past interests, speeches, lesson plans, projects from elementary school, awards, licenses, legal documents, work reviews, some photos and so much more. It brought back a flood of memories, good and bad. As I sorted documents into various bags for recycling or shredding or for keepsakes, I thought a lot about my life. I am aware of my blessings and accomplishments, but this exercise also reminded me of my failings. I know that not all of my life choices worked out as I had hoped. I remember that I am human, not perfect, and in great need of Jesus. Jesus makes me whole, forgives me, heals me, celebrates me.
I have been trying to imagine what Christmas will be like this year, with Covid 19. It will not be a perfect Christmas, at least not by previous expectations. I trust that Jesus will guide me in my decision making as he has always lighted my way. I am going to find some mismatching candles and holders for an imperfect Advent wreath. As I focus on the light, I will reflect on what makes Christmas perfect, and once again discover the wonder.
Wondrous God, light our pathways, shining your light in the dark corners. Teach us how to carry this light to others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
To the Writers
of this devotional: