“Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?”
I’m not a mother. I may never know what it feels like for a devoted mom to love so faithfully, joyfully and unconditionally. It is hard to imagine what young Mary faced, in her time and place, knowing she’d bear the child who would change the world. There was so much to fear: To realize her beloved child would be in danger his entire life must have been agonizing. Wondrously, in the midst of all potential worry, Mary chose hope and joy instead.
We don’t know when Mary gave birth to Jesus, but it seems somehow fitting to celebrate it in December. The dawn of a new year bears hope for the good. But it can also bring anxiety for the unknown, especially if we fear that someone or something we love could be in danger. Mary’s embrace of Jesus’ birth reminds us that hope and love are not just sweet ideas; they are radical. Fierce. World-changing. Everlasting.
Nothing stopped Mary from stepping forward, full tilt boogie, with joyful hope and devoted mother-love. My Advent prayer is to have that kind of faith. A Mary faith. A Mary Christmas. That could make this a Merry Christmas, indeed.
By Patrice Donnell
P.S. The song “Mary, Did You Know” by Mark Lowry, has been covered by hundreds of artists. Two beautiful, very different versions are linked below:
The twinkling lights, the packages and the joyful melodies can, at times, for some be hard to embrace.They remind us of lost loved ones, failed hopes, sadness and depression. For some Christmas is blue, that’s why it’s so important to show joy, bring light and offer words of hope. I have included a candle lighting that you can use with friends or family to remember a loved one, perhaps you can do it on December 21st, the longest night, when the day is the shortest and the night is the longest.
The days are short. The nights are long. Lord, your universe mirrors the reality of our hearts, revealing your gracious spirit that mourns with us in grief, cries with us in sorrow, sits with us in despair. You are not a distant God, removed from human pain, but a faithful companion closer to us than our tears. Help us to feel your presence now as we remember and reflect, seeking your healing touch and the hope we have in the Christ child. Amen
Lighting of candles
Reader: We light these candles in thanksgiving for loved ones lost, for past health and joy that seems so distant.
Reader: We light these candles in prayer, that we will feel God’s love in our present sorrow.
Reader: We light these candles in hope, for the promises of God yet to be revealed.
Together say, glory to God, you are the light of the world.
Read Psalm 113 and Psalm 139:7-12
Reflect and give thanks for the loved one and gods consistent presence and assurance of ever lasting life.
God let me find some lonely ones Among the crowd today, And let me say a word to take their loneliness away. So many walk with breaking hearts Along Life’s rough highway. So many walk with breaking hearts And no one understands; They find the trail all bramble–closed across the barren lands; God help me lighten weary eyes, And rest worn tired hands.
Most of the world takes a timeout each day for tea, but most Americans do not take a moment to sip in the afternoon. Maybe we should.
I grew up in the 1970’s. The decade of polyester, plaid, bell bottoms, and a time where processed food or “Frankenfood” like Velveeta became part of our diets. Most Moms added Dr. Pepper to a roast and a can of lemon lime soda to their pound cakes. Fast food was more important than natural ingredients.
One of my favorite 70’s creation was Russian Tea Mix, a typical “homemade” hostess gift that you brought to a gathering in the winter. Have you ever seen the recipe?
Powdered Iced Tea
Tang was not available in Russia, so I am not sure how authentic “Russian Tea” was? But it did taste good and many a cold afternoon was spent sipping the delectable tea mix steaming with hot water.
As we are all trying to eat healthier, I thought about how to make a “better for you” version of this 70’s staple and I came across this version on Pinterest without a creator’s name attached. Here is a take on Russian Tea that is all natural:
Juice one lemon
Juice two oranges
2 tablespoons honey
A cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4-5 black tea bags
Tea time may not be possible during the Advent season, but what will you choose to drink, to savor or spirit when you have a moment?