Anticipation of Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve. Even the words evoke so many memories made and the anticipation of new ones. I fondly recall many late night Christmas Eves when my children were little. Getting cookies set out, reading the Christmas story, pictures in pjs around the Christmas tree. Then after they were tucked snugly in bed the frenzy would begin. Wrapping the rest of the presents, finishing the baking, then cleaning the mess of it all. I was usually done around 1 am, just in time for Mass from St Peter’s Basillica to come on the television. I loved that moment. Exhausted, but everything was prepared for my family and I had a moment to sit. Sit in anticipation of what the day would bring. Sit in appreciation that somehow it had all come together. Sit in awe of Jesus, come to earth.

I’m a bit older now, a bit more prepared, a bit more practiced. It’s Christmas eve morning. The presents have been wrapped for two weeks, the house is clean, the treats all baked. My oldest son will here tonight (and probably will refuse pictures around the tree). I’m on staff at a church now, so I get to be an active participant in our Christmas Eve services, rather than listening to a catholic tradition on the tv. I still feel anticipation, appreciation, and awe.

I’m taking a few moments before the busyness of the day kicks in. I read the Christmas story in Luke. I have some music on. I find myself getting lost in these lyrics from Bethel Music:

What can I do for You

What can I bring to You

What kind of song would You like me to sing

‘Cause I’ll dance a dance for You

Pour out my love to You

What can I do for You, beautiful King

 

‘Cause I can’t thank You enough

‘Cause I can’t thank You enough

I’m filled with anticipation for the services tonight, for the day with family and friends tomorrow, for the plans He has for me in the New Year. The lyrics though remind me to sit in worship of Him. To find that stillness now, to focus on the peace and joy that was brought to earth all those years ago, to focus on gratitude for Him. I can’t even find all the right words to say thank you. I feel like I need to do something to show my love, my faith. I need to be better, be stronger, share my faith more. A bit of anxiety starts to mix in with the anticipation. And then rest of the lyrics just get me. He takes me to that still place with Him:

Then I hear you saying to me

Listen, you don’t have to do a thing

Just simply be with me

and let those things go

‘Cause they can wait another minute

Wait, this moment is too sweet

Would you please stay here, here with me

And love on me a little longer

 

I hear you sayingIMG_9879

You don’t have to do a thing

Just simply be with me

and let those things go

‘Cause they can wait another minute

Wait, this moment is too sweet

Would you please stay here, here with me

And love on me a little longer

 

’cause I like to be with you a little longer

 

I’m letting go and sitting in the stillness with Him.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

**lyrics from Bethel Music, “A Little Longer”

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Sweetly Broken

I love to play praise music during the day. It helps remind me to thank God and think about Him throughout the day. And He loves it when we sing praises to Him, even if I’m only singing in my mind as to not disturb coworkers with my bad warbling.  

Some songs take me back to a memory. Sometimes, straight back to a situation that was really powerful for me. Such is the case with Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle. 

Two years ago I was in Israel. It was an amazing trip, eye opening and faith deepening, in many ways. We walked where Jesus walked. Sat in the beauty of where He delivered the beatitudes. Swam in the waves of the Sea of Galilee where He calmed the waters. 

Then we also traveled behind today’s green line. We walked in a schoolyard littered with spent smoke bombs and whistle bombs. We touched the graffiti covered walls holding residents behind them. We saw the modern day helplessness and hopelessness.

When we returned to Jerusalem we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A place where many believe Jesus was crucified and possibly buried. We were waiting in line in the rotunda, surrounded by amazing architecture and images of Christ crucified. I put in my headphones and played some music while waiting, this is what sang into my ears:

To the cross I look, to the cross I cling

Of its suffering I do drink

Of its work I do sing

For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed

Showed that God is love

And God is just

It was overwhelming to be surrounded by the sights and smells of where He died for our sins. My sins. And to think that God loved us so much, He was willing to give up His Son. To place all the punishment we deserve, on His Son. I feel unworthy. Yet the words sing on…

At the cross You beckon me

You draw me gently to my knees, and I am

Lost for words, so lost in love,

I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

 

What a priceless gift, undeserved life

Have I been given

Through Christ crucified

Yes, so completely underserved. PRICELESS!! And even when I don’t know what to think, what to say, You beckon me and draw me gently to my knees. So gracious! So forgiving!!

You’ve called me out of death

You’ve called me into life

And I was under Your wrath

Now through the cross I’m reconciled

 You loved me too much to leave me apart from you in death. You loved me so much you called me to life, abundant life! Through this cross, in this place I stand, you reconciled my debts. Before I was even born, you gave your Son to pay them.

In awe of the cross I must confess

How wondrous Your redeeming love and

How great is Your faithfulness

I was in complete awe that day. I shared a headphone with a friend. We both had tears streaming down our face. Because we’re forgiven. Not because of our greatness or worth, but because our creator is that great. And that faithful. And I just relived all of it, listening to the words of this song, broken and surrendered again…

Lost for words, so lost in love,

I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered