They said to ignore the hustle and bustle. Simplify they said. They said to ignore invitations that come, to rest and keep the season calm so they can welcome their new beginning with rested arms.
Then it came. A letter commanding them to travel to a different city for a census.
I can imagine how I would have reacted, though I'm sure Mary was much more calm and peaceful.
"How in the world am I supposed to travel on a donkey nine months pregnant? Why do we both have to go? What if I have the baby? Who will help me?"
But travel they did, and the rest, as they say, is history. He had a prophecy to fulfill, you see.
I think of this, or rather a lovely friend encourages me to think of this, when I feel like I am drowning in Christmas.
Parties, cards, cookies, gifts, wrapping, stress. I try to cram a lot into the season and was beginning to wonder if I should cut back. Simplify. Rest during this time.
Then I remember Mary.
I remember that rest is a Person, not a place. That sometimes an invitation comes that you mustn't ignore. That sometimes Joy comes through a long journey on the back of a stubborn animal while your uterus is contracting.
Sometimes it's okay to just embrace Christmas for what it is.
It's a busy season and it's hard work. We can refuse the work, but then when Christmas morning comes and it's time to celebrate Love come down, we may find we are not prepared.
I think maybe it's time we stop telling everyone to stop, relax, and remember "The reason for the season."
"The Reason for the season" decided to show up in the midst of exhaustion and frustration. Understanding the "reason for the season" means understanding that Christmastime is not necessarily a joy-filled season, long days before the fire, resting and anticipating the Lord. Sometimes it's long days, full of hard work, thoughtful preparation for the ones we love, so that we can wake up on that fateful morning and proclaim His goodness. So that we can say, "Do you see what this day means? What it represents? Do you know His name?"
I like to think, when I'm addressing cards and wrapping gifts, maybe this is what it means to prepare for the coming of the Lord.
Mary brought forth the Savior of the world after hours of laborious travel. Then she spent years raising our King, only to watch Him be executed like a mere man.
Maybe it's time we accept Christmas for what is is - a time of hard work, preparing for the arrival of a Redeemer. Maybe our kids need to see a month of sacrifice and joy and mess and obligations and then watch us raise our eyes on Christmas Eve and proclaim, O Holy Night.
Weary and run ragged, we take heart - for He is coming. And on that day, we will bow before Him, filled with hope and exhaustion, and proclaim the Wonder that held us captive for an entire season.