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Author: Jude Mitchell

Advent 2018 – Monday, December 24

What Does Christmas Sound Like?

 

During Christmas time, one thing I’ve noticed is that there is a veritable smorgasbord of sounds. From music and carols to the ringing of Salvation Army bells, so many sounds bring us into the season through our auditory memory.

I loved hearing the subdued voices of my family as a child, as treats and surprises were planned, and now as an adult, as our loves conspire to provide for and surprise each other. Hearing the whispered, low-toned communications fuels a sense of anticipation, fun and even a sense of being precious to someone.

I wonder if the Wise Men approached the manger with such a sense of awe and anticipation. Were their voices subdued in excitement as they approached Christ in the manger, with their gifts? Were they hushed by the importance of what they found by following the star?

“Faith is believing that all power can’t be seen”.  (Sometimes we can hear it …)

 

Jude Mitchell
Church Lady

Advent 2018 – Thursday, December 20

Some of my most meaningful Christmas memories stem from my family’s Midnight Mass tradition each year.

One Christmas in particular remains with me. My Mother, as always, got all 6 kids dressed up in our finest to go to Midnight Mass (she stayed home for a quiet nervous breakdown before our return). I put on my red plaid dress, tights with a hole in the toe, and my “best” shoes – black patent leather. As we entered our church’s neighborhood, cars were everywhere, so parking was a long way off. We climbed out of the station wagon with my Dad, and walked about 3 blocks in the dark, icy streets. My fancy shoes were very slippery, so I kept curling my toes to hold them on, and stay balanced. My holey-tights-toe pinched painfully in the almost-too-small-shoes, causing me to quietly say “Ow,” with each left-step. I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to get there, so I can rub my sore toe.”

Obviously, the anticipation of the celebration of Christ’s birth was, at that moment, lost on this 5 year old, but the magic of the dark streets, my warm coat and hat, and holding hands with my sibs gave me a sense of deep belonging and contentment. Once I emancipated my toe, I was overcome by the sacred service. It always awed me. It still does.

What does Christmas feel like? Well, one memory is of a sore, cold toe, and the anticipation of freeing it. Now? The anticipation of celebrating our Savior’s birth, what that means to the world, and the peace and joy of the season. That’s a feeling as real as a sore toe.

Jude Mitchell, church lady (still working on the training part)

Advent 2017 – Thursday, Dec 21

According to Wikipedia, “Advent is the season observed by many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning waiting.”

Waiting… not my strongest attribute for sure, but one which God requires of all of us. And isn’t the season of Advent a wonderful time of anticipation? To acknowledge, each day of December, God’s providence, His promise, His greatest gift! To expectantly prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth is like preparing for a cherished guest in our home, our life and our heart each year.

Only God could create the emotion of anticipation, and a sacred moment so worthy of it.
I pray that the season of Advent speaks to us in a sacred voice of yearning and joy as we move toward the celebration day!

Jude Mitchell, church lady

Advent 2017 – Tuesday, Dec 5

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:30-33)

As a young girl, I remember reading Scripture about Mary and thinking, “Really? You’ve got to be kidding! Wasn’t this just, well, a lot to expect of a teenaged girl? What about her parents, family, neighbors and friends? Won’t she live life as an outcast?”

As I’ve grown in years and faith, it is even more evident, the enormity of Mary’s situation. God expected Mary to sacrifice everything in her life to serve his purpose, and she did. He gave her the courage and grace to fulfill his purpose of bringing the most sacred child into the world. She was the sacred vessel.

Have I got the courage and grace to “bear” into the world, God’s purpose for me?
Mary was promised that her son would be The Son of the Most High, the Lord God.
And yes, I’m promised the gracious gift of a Savior who came into the world to redeem me.

Still asking God for the courage ….

Jude Mitchell, church lady

Advent 2016 Day 23

At Christmas time, family traditions and activities can be the most fun. They can also be the least fun. Each year I can’t help but wonder what Christ would say about how we “celebrate” his birth.

The Advent-ure of Advent, allows us all to anticipate Christ’s birth by preparing for his coming, praying daily, reading Scripture and getting to know him. Christ was warmly anticipated, and spoken of by the Prophets hundreds of years before his birth. How amazing that we live in a time to celebrate after his birth and understand the beauty and sacredness of the Savior’s coming through Scripture!

Christ’s coming is for our hope (John 3:17), For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Christ’s coming examples God’s love for us (1 John 4:7-8), Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

I think of that scripture as a parallel of Christ’s birth—when we are born in Christ, we know God. We don’t condemn, we unify and love each other.

Happy Christmas to you all, and may we never forget the example of God’s love, during this sacred and exciting season!

Jude Mitchell, Church-lady

Advent 2016 Day 11

Staying Hope-Full…

We live in times of fear, despair and terrible anxiety. Just turn on the TV or go online to hear the tone and tremor of “what if’s; if only’s; what are THOSE PEOPLE (not us, of course) thinking?” We are exposed to hopelessness at high volume, hi-speed, and high emotion. Even as we sit safely in our homes, we allow hopelessness in like a valued visitor. It pollutes our capacity to see what is around us clearly, to trust with the confidence God planted deeply in us, or even to see as sacred, the cherished loves and blessings we hold in our hands.

People of faith are submitting to the fear-factor, too. Have we forgotten the hope of Christ? Have we forgotten that the purpose of Christ’s coming is our eternal hope through grace? And… just saying… if we are truly confident in God, how can we not be hope-filled?

I recently read Romans (8:24), “For, in this hope we were saved. Now, hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” Boy, isn’t that the truth? Who among us hopes for what we see? Isn’t our hope in the unseen God? Evidence is all around us of God’s grace, his providing, and his desires for us. He sent his Son to show us how to live. How to love. To be our hope.

My prayer for us all this Christmas, it that we celebrate! Be Hope-Full! Filled with the light of a God who loved us enough to send his Son to light the way to our eternal future in him.

Jude Mitchell, Church-lady perpetually in training

Advent 2015 Day 23

Love:

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, as love covers a multitude of sins”
~ 1 Pet 4:8

Love one another earnestly. Hmmm. Not casually, not sort-of. Not when convenient or when I’m feeling particularly inspired. Not because someone is deserving or lovable or “worthy”; (trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind…) but seriously, earnestly.

King David was the poster-child of “love covering a multitude of sins…” The example of a great man whom God loved dearly, in spite of his continual disobedience, ego, hot-headedness, mistakes. Sound like anyone I know? (Hmmm again. Sounds like me…)

That “covering” is not a concealer or a cover-up. It’s the blanket of grace. Hmmm.

Love is hard. It’s risky. It involves huge potential for pain, for suffering, for rejection, for loss. Love isn’t for wimps. It takes courage to “cover a multitude…” It takes grace, and grace is a product of courageous love.

Ah. Just like Christ’s love for us! God sent his son to show us what love looks like, to example to us the selflessness, generosity and likelihood, no, certainty, of pain in loving others. Who suffered more than Christ in love? What a sacrificial act and a sign of God’s love for us!

But, it’s going to hurt.

My prayer for this Christmas, is that we will keep loving one another earnestly. That the celebration of Christ’s birth will inspire his light to shine through us, to cover ours, and others’ sins in a gentle blanket of grace. That we can truly represent Christ well to the world, through courageous, loving actions, words and heart.

Jude Mitchell, Church-Lady-still-in-training

Advent 2015 Day 10

What is Joy?

When I was a child, my family lived in a small house in Denver. Three bedrooms and one bathroom, with eight people! My Mom lined us up every day before school with a hairbrush, methodically fastening ponytails with rubber bands carefully culled from daily newspapers. Rubber bands were imperative to our family hair-routine!

Eight people in a small space was our family’s “normal.” No one thought it strange or odd or even crowded. I was never aware as a child that sharing a room with my sisters, and basically having to take a number to use the bathroom, was even close to an inconvenience. I remember a real sense of security, connectedness, joy. We were “together”.

My sweet father, after years of hard work and planning, then built a home that gave each of us our own room! All six kids! Alone! By ourselves! What a gift!

It wasn’t until we “had” something, that I ever considered that, prior, we hadn’t had something. What a stunning reality – so powerful in my life. My new room, painted and fresh with my things, I realized wistfully, was a lonely place. I missed the simplicity, the pile-up of our old “normal.” We had been more-together… more connected… more of a team, a family. There was new emptiness in me in all that new space!

This early life-observation taught me that joy comes from the simple things. Relationships, connectedness. Being part of something bigger than me – sharing the bathroom! That bigger isn’t necessarily better … “stuff” doesn’t matter. “Stuff” clutters up the path to joy, dulling its brightness, hardening its soft edges, blocking our ability to experience it.

I pray this Christmas, that your family will experience the joy of our Savior’s birth, and the profound, humble treasure of relationship with God and with each other.

 

Jude Mitchell – Church Lady