Something I say, almost ad nauseam, is that we need to enter into the story of Christ. We need to feel the anticipation of Christmas in Advent, the heaviness of Good Friday, the darkness of Holy Saturday, and the joys of Easter Sunday. The Church calendar encourages this in our spirituality. Advent is one of the most important times of the year for our growth in Christ.
I remember when my older sister was pregnant with her first child. I’m sure everybody remembers a family members first child, but this one was a little different. During her pregnancy my family lost a patriarch in my mother’s dad. His passing was traumatic for us. I had never lost somebody with whom I was so close. I’ll never forget when my family found out my sister was pregnant. We were all at my grandma’s house for Papa’s funeral. Grandma was sitting in her recliner while my mom and aunt were busy in the kitchen preparing dinner for everybody. My sister asked everybody to come into the room where Grandma sat because she had something to tell us. She knelt next to Grandma and said to her, and to everybody in the room, “I”m pregnant!”
You can imagine the range of emotions my family experienced the weekend of that funeral. You could feel both joy and sorrow with every inhale and exhale those few days. God truly gave to us a new family member as he received another one in glory. Tears of sorrow and joy filled the room.
What this child symbolized for our family was the beginning of a new generation, a new season of life. When the due date approached, it seemed like everybody was calling the house every night to ask about Alison. You have to remember this is before Facebook. Phone calls were still the form of communication! I’m sure my mom begrudgingly answered the phone merely to say, “We’re still waiting.” I say it was a begrudging task simply because, in the instance of childbirth, no news is not good news. Everybody wanted to hear, "She's in labor!" That's good news.
Could you imagine the way Mary felt as she went on donkey into Bethlehem? It was a mere 9 months before that the Angel Gabriel forever changed her life with the announcement that she was going to give birth to the Messiah, the Son of God. Her cousin, Elizabeth, was busy taking care of her own newborn son, John, but I’m sure she couldn’t take her mind off Mary who carried in her womb the hope of the world. Christmas marks for us, as Christians, a new beginning. It’s a story of which we are all a part. I invite you, as Christmas draws near, to live in that anticipation. Walk the road with Mary to Bethlehem. Sit in the barn with Joseph as he paces back and forth. The day of His birth is just around the corner, but don’t take a short cut.