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God Gave Us Christmas

Christine McMichael, Associate, Rhode Island

Gaudete Sunday.  That is Latin for REJOICE!  We’re lighting the rose colored candle filled with the spirit of joy this week.  How did we get here so fast?  One thing makes the time spent waiting seem to go by so much faster.  Any ideas?  Surely many of you guessed it.  Busy-ness.  Seems as if I blinked and instantly it was the third week of Advent!

I read the readings for this week when I knew I would be writing this reflection.  Isaiah assures me that I should rejoice heartily in the Lord for God is the joy in my soul.  Then St. Paul suggests that the God of peace will prepare me for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And finally, John the Baptist clears the path and sets the stage for the one coming after him…

All of this profound text is helpful as I continue on the journey.  But at the risk of redundancy, my Advent journey has been evolving in concordance with the growth of my little boy.  Andre is six now and as his understanding of Advent and Christmas evolves as mine also continues to morph as well. 

Each year, as I seek to see the Christmas season through the eyes of a child, I am more enlightened than the year before.  Some of you may remember, Are You Ready? from Curious George:  A Very Monkey Christmas.  As Andre gets older, that song continues to remind us that Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus.  It is impossible to hear that song and not feel joyful. 

This year’s imagery comes from a book Andre’s grandmother gave him in 2008 for his first Christmas.  Now, I can assure you that we have read it every year, but when we read it this last week, it was if we never read it before!  God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergen and David Hohn touched us both with awe and amazement as we read the story of a mother bear explaining to her cub how God gave us Christmas. 

When Little Cub asks who invented Christmas and assuming it was Santa, Mama Bear takes her on an adventure (much like the Advent Retreat for the RI CND group!) through the beauty of nature to show her exactly who gave us Christmas. 

Their first stop was a mountain where they both experienced joy as Little Cub played up and down the mountains, joyfully romping and rolling in the snow.  Then it’s off to sleep after a long day.  MaMa Bear awakens Little Cub who wonders why so early.  MaMa Bear says, It’s God, and proceeds to show her the breathtaking Northern Lights.  She tells her, God sent his only Son as a baby so that we would know light from dark.  Jesus is the light of the world.  Jesus is how God gave us Christmas.

Onto a beautiful lake surrounded by mighty glaciers, MaMa Bear tells Little Cub how God made Jesus the King of kings.  Little Cub wondered how Jesus could be a king; he was a baby.  MaMa Bear told Little Cub that God knew we would need someone we could touch and see and smell.  David Hohn beautifully depicts mothers and their cubs, foals, etc. in the wild, nuzzling and cuddling each other.  And MaMa Bear nuzzles Little Cub and makes her giggle.

At dawn, as the sun rises, MaMa Bear tells Little Cub that Jesus is called the bright Morning Star and that he first came when God gave us Christmas.  MaMa Bear bows down to whisper to a little flower that has peeked out from the hard, frozen ground to say, Oh, you are too early, little flower.  Then she tells Little Cub that Jesus is like this flower, God in our worldLiving where you wouldn’t expect him, surprising us!  Christmas is a lot about surprises!

Much like Andre and children everywhere, Little Cub is excited about the surprises, the presents!  MaMa Bear lovingly tells her that Jesus is the best present of all.  And God gave us Christmas.

Finally, they come upon a church where the sounds of the season abound on the night before Christmas, when Jesus is born.  Little Cub wonders if Jesus would come for grumpy Frankie Fox and Mean Maggie Moose when MaMa Bear tells her that Jesus is a present for all of us whether grumpy, happy, mean or kind.  God gave us all Christmas. 

At home Little Cub thanked MaMa Bear for showing her God then went to sleep and dreamed of bright stars and Northern Lights, of a King born as a tiny baby and angels singing over him…

The next morning, Christmas morning, Little Cub shrieks, God gave us Christmas!  Again!  Andre loves this part!

As we approach enter the third week of Advent, where are you seeing the joy promised in Jesus? 


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