We usually decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. The family gathered at our house for Thanksgiving and our granddaughters were so excited that we were putting up our tree. They’d never seen our tree or ornaments or decorations.
Of course, we didn’t get everything decorated. After they went to bed, I unpacked my various nativity sets and set them up. The next morning when they got up they discovered the figures of Mary holding baby Jesus, Joseph, the shepherds and their animals, angels, and the three wise men and camel. They were amazed.
The wonder of three little girls – ages 3, 6, and 8 – was like Christmas for me! They had questions and their own stories about the people. The connection clicked between the nativity set representing the Christmas story and the Advent calendar revealing little snippets of the same story.
We collected the angel figures I had throughout the house to add to the nativity scene. That sparked a conversation about death. Of course, my brother who died about this time last year was often in our conversation throughout Thanksgiving, and the girls wanted to know where he died, and about the angels, and Jesus, and death, and life after death.
Advent seems like an odd time to talk about death and resurrection, but then part of the mystery of God is how it all comes together in its own purposeful way.
Jesus said to them, “Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. Now [God] is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to [God] all of them are alive.” ~ Luke 20:36, 38
A group of religious leaders who did not believe in resurrection came to test Jesus. They wanted to pick apart the “hows” of the resurrection in their desire to know and control. I love his answer which is our Advent Scripture above. God is God of the living, and all are alive. His answer was more than the religious leaders could or wanted to get their heads around! The whole passage is here and I encourage you to check it out to get the context.
That is so like God! Invite the questions, listen to the intent, and then frame the answer as a clue to peek still further into the mystery.
That’s why children are so wondrous. There is so much they’re discovering and learning, and making connections between what they’re discovering and learning. We learned that about Keana who was 7 years-old when she shared at my brother’s service. We saw that over Thanksgiving weekend when she and her 6 year-old sister, Maia, asked where my brother died, and then later found flowers from the yard and placed them in the spot where my sister found my brother. I saw that in their play with the nativity set and angels. Their Christmas story included birth and resurrection and a new life in heaven.
I think they got it right.
What new insight about Advent or Christmas is swirling around inside you?
Help me enjoy the wonder in waiting. Help me see the clues discovered on my path. Help me peek further into the mystery that is life. Amen.