It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas music is playing, trees are going up, cookies are being baked, and children are expecting to be visited by a heretic-slapping defender of the orthodox faith. Alright, you’ve probably never heard of that last holiday tradition, but St. Nicholas (apart from being the basis of the Santa Claus legend) is a big deal in the history of the church. He helped formulate one of the greatest creeds in Christendom.
I have often wondered what was different about Mary. How did God choose her to be the mother of Jesus? What was in the heart of Mary, the peasant girl from Nazareth, that made her worthy to give birth to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Mary was a simple country girl, with no exceptional expectations and engaged to be married, when the angel of God came to her and told her that her life would never be the same again. The Bible says that Mary was initially “greatly troubled” (Luke 1:26), and the angel told her “don’t be afraid” (Luke 1:30). After asking about some details, Mary says simply, “I am the Lord’s servant” (Luke 1:38).
As December starts and Christmas Eve draws ever closer, I find myself increasingly overwhelmed by the relentless marketing of the “Holiday Season”. It seems as if every store I walk into is trying to convince me that the true meaning of Christmas can be found by buying more, more, more. In past years my friends have gone so far as to call me a “Christmas Grinch”.
This year I am taking refuge from commercial Christmas in these four simple traditions that remind me that the purpose of Advent season is preparing for the coming of Jesus - the Light of the World: