To get our hearts ready for Christ’s birth, Ann Voskamp is writing for us, celebrating the holiday that’s all about Jesus. Join us as we anticipate the coming of our savior.
Steam rises from loaves of holiday bread cooling on the counter.
The snow keeps coming down.
Checking off the to-do lists in late afternoon: lay out disthtowels to wrap the bread loaves up in, tie with sprig of cedar, a bow of raffia—gifts for the neighbors, the mailman, the farm vet.
Hard to wait for loaves to cool. Hard to wait. Hard, with all the lists and to-dos, to still at all in the spin of the season.
This, the season meant for waiting wonder: God gestates.
For nine long months, The Maker of everything hovered over the waters of the womb, divided His own cells and pulled on skin. God waited to make His entrance. Mary gently rubs her swelling abdomen. She waits. She prays. She stretches.
God stirs within. He moves her.
Is that how to truly enter into Christmas?
Christmas can only come like Christ came: in the resting wait of gestation.
Like a mother longing for the holding of the Child.
So in the Child-waiting—there is this counting of days.
The opening of advent calendar squares, the reading of a verse, the next day of the Jesse Tree devotional, the moving ahead of the candle around the wreath.
A counting, an anticipating, a wondering what it all means.
And then—the thinking on the names of the Child.
His name scrolled in quiet ways: Messiah, Redeemer, Mighty God, Savior—Bread of Life.
This waiting for Who will come from above and unexpectedly, right into our mire, the babe creased with vernix who will wash us clean.
And what all the hearts longing for the Child-holding do—finally, seek out gifts for the Child.
Give to the least of these and give a gift to the Christ Himself and invite a wearying one in for a cup of something warm and give the gift of listening and make and envision and do and give and happily make the days and the life into the gift.
These gestational waiting days of anticipating the Christ Child, these, they gloriously stretch us and this is the purpose of Advent—to grow us.
Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ. Any weight in Christmas has to be of this world.
Christ came into this world as grace to lift all the weighty burdens.
Christ the Babe comes to us in Christmas as Christ the Savior comes to us on the Cross—seeking only our embrace.
The list on the counter looks long.
What if I laid down efforts and expectations, perfectionism and performance?
What if I breathed deep and simply waited with arms and heart and eyes wide open?
What if Christmas was the season to letting go of to-do lists adding up—to receive what’s coming down?
Love comes down.
Christmas, it isn’t a product to wrap but a Person to unfold into our lives. What can I say no to today — so I can say Yes to truly more of Him?
Love comes down.
Christmas, it can’t be bought. It cannot be created. It cannot be made by hand. Christmas can only be found. Found in the person of Christ.
How can I slow today … slow in the midst of the holiday hustle … and simply do what Christmas is all about—finding more of Christ? How could this Christmas be about quietly, lovingly, looking for Christ?
Love comes down—O come let us adore him.
It’s there in the stillness—His movements.
And in the stillness, and in the wait—our hearts leap! Joy! His coming! Love comes down.
The steam of the bread, it rises.
I stand at the window—watching it all come down—
White and perfect. Weightless.
Ann Voskamp is a farmer’s wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times bestseller, and new this month, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, she’s a writer for DaySpring, a speaker with Women of Faith, and a global advocate for needy children with Compassion International. Ann loses library books, usually has a sink full of soaking pots, and sees empty laundry baskets rarer than a blue moon.