We go on a nature walk–all five of us girls–through the tall, thick brush of the edge of our backyard. After tripping and pushing through weeds and briars taller than us, we finally come to a clearing with beautiful pines reaching up to the sky and patches of late afternoon sun streaming through forest green spiny branch shoots and pine cones.
I boost Lorna up next to a maple and she pulls down some branches with blood-red leaves and we snap them off for our mantle. We pick up pine cones and find a furry baby cedar tree that will be perfect for our Advent tree. So, after we come back to the house for a saw, we troop out to the woods again and cut it down and bring it into the house to our buffet table in the dining room.
We set the miniature tree in some water and my oldest asks me if we can all watch Nativity Story together. I sense her pure heart in her desire and I want a heart like that,
One evening when Mr. Simmons is at home after working a lot of overtime for a few weeks and being away, she asks again because I have promised we will sit down and watch. We all do baths, put pajamas on and eat supper and then we light our candle on the advent wreath and do our devotion.
We are way behind because we have forgotten to do Advent everyday and the babies are whiny and don’t want to sit still and my pre-teen crosses her arms in defiance.
I try to be patient and I read in low tones so they will listen and somehow, with an extra dose of grace, we make it through.
Then we finally sit down all together to watch the movie that depicts the Savior’s coming. Immanuel- God with us, a baby come to save the world.
When the baby is born and Joseph holds Jesus up in the glorious light–the Star of Sharon–streaming down on them as if from Heaven, something that is not from this world swells in my heart and the hot tears boil over.
When the first Magi places the gold in front of the baby and says, “Gold for the king of all kings,” I think of this majestic king, only a babe sleeping in a feed trough for animals.
Then the second Magi steps up and whispers, “Frankincense for the priest of all priests.” and the tears threaten again as my head fills with the image of this High Priest who will rip the veil into for me, who will go before the Father and will intercede on my behalf and will make clean all my filthiness.
Lastly, the third Magi comes forward–the one who had trouble believing in the Messiah–and he lays the gift of Myrrh on the ground where Mary is holding the baby. “Myrrh to honor thy sacrifice,” he reverently speaks it, his face betraying his obvious awe and faith.
But this is really what hits me: when the lonely shepherd leans over to see and touch the baby, the Christ-child, the gift–he pulls back in hesitation and Mary tells him softly,
“He is for all mankind,” and hands the baby Jesus over to his empty arms.
Now the damn breaks, my throat burns and the well of emotion rolls hot down my cheek.
I look over at Husband and see his eyes moist, and I glance at my oldest daughter, her eyes transfixed on the screen.
She is just taking all this in.
Yes, I want a heart like that–one that simply beholds, simply looks to Christ with the awe and faith of a child.
And I think–though I feel that I have failed at Advent and we haven’t been committed to the devotions every night and we forgot to hang the ornaments every day, didn’t plan a trip to a soup kitchen to ladle out food to the poor–
Because I want a child-heart that seeks Him, born this happy Christmas morning! Isn’t that the whole point of it really?
The point isn’t for us to do it perfectly, because we never will attain that. But it is a successful Advent if in our waiting and beholding, in our quiet devotion times and in our loud, boisterous, kids-running-around-the-house-breaking-things times–if in all of this we really *see* Him.
Come and let us behold Him like little children. Let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!