From Christmas to Nativity

Have we crossed off every name on the shopping list?
Do both kids have the same amount of presents?
Do you think I spent enough on so-and-so?
I forgot to buy eggs!
I need one more stocking stuffer!
We have to be at Nanny’s at noon.
We went over our Christmas budget!

For me, Christmas always seems to be hectic, not happy; stressful, not sacred; messy, not merry. My Xmas Stress level tends to peak between my last day of work for the year and Christmas Day. In those few days, Steven and I are rushing out to finish the Christmas shopping, running home to wrap gifts, and I am often cooking and/or food shopping for Christmas day. I am left feeling exhausted and empty. I have a hard time finding that feeling of anticipation that I loved as a child.

Today I think of Mary, tired and pregnant, forced to sleep in a cave with animals, uncomfortable and in pain, yet joyous. I think of what she told Gabriel when he announced she would be Theotokos, God-bearer:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.”

If Mary, in her physical and emotional distress, could welcome God into the world, surely I can. What a miracle it is that He would come through just an unknown simple woman – that He would put on skin and come to us! My own son’s saint, Ephraim, penned these words:

Thy mother is a cause for wonder: the Lord entered her
and became a servant; He who is the Word entered
– and became silent within her; thunder entered her
– and made no sound; there entered the Shepherd of all,
and in her He became the Lamb, bleating as He came forth.

Thy mother’s womb has reversed the roles:
the Establisher of all entered in His richness,
but came forth poor; the Exalted One entered her,
but came forth meek; the Splendrous One entered her,
but came forth having put on a lowly hue.

The Mighty One entered, and put on insecurity
from her womb; the Provisioner of all entered
– and experienced hunger; He who gives drink to all entered
– and experienced thirst: naked and stripped
there came forth from her He who clothes all.

*Please know that “entered” here is not used in a sexual way. He entered humanity, human form. He placed Himself in her womb, his body knit together over nine months just as every other human’s is, so that He might become like us.

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