This is a guest post by my mother, Sharon Kelley. She shared the following as a Mentor Moment for the young mothers of her church. When I read it, I cried. It’s just too good to leave on her hard drive… so I’m sharing it with you. May you open the stable door this Christmas. —Shannon
So how are the Christmas preparations going for you so far? Are the presents bought? Are they wrapped up with a sparkly bow? Are the cookies baked? Is the tree up? Is the house decorated inside and out? Are the Christmas cards in the mailbox, including a bright and happy family letter? Is your blood pressure rising just thinking about all you have yet to do?
In my own life, my little family of three children has grown to three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. That’s a lot of shopping and attending at least nine Christmas school programs, band concerts, piano recitals and a Tae Kwon Do black belt testing thrown in the mix. Bill and I also have responsibilities to help care for Bill’s 91 year old mom and my 98 year old Dad. Wowsa. It’s a lot in December.
And then there are always the unexpected happenings. Two years ago this Christmas Eve, our beautifully decorated, nine foot tall, real Christmas tree crashed to the floor at the stroke of midnight breaking most of the heirloom ornaments that I cherished. While I scooped up all that thin glass, I remember tearfully chanting, “It’s only stuff, Lord. It’s only stuff, Lord. It’s only stuff, Lord.” The sad tale soon became known. All our kids, grandkids and friends felt so bad for me that they brought replacement ornaments, including an alligator rowing a kayak, because, our son, Paul, said, “Every Christmas tree needs an alligator in a kayak.”
Oh, if only real life would stop a little bit and just let us get everything on our lists accomplished between Thanksgiving and Christmas day! But it doesn’t. Sadly, it’s tough to find rest and peace and silence and calm in December.
It wasn’t always that way. When I was a little girl growing up on a farm, my Mom placed our crèche under the Christmas tree. It was plain and simple. Made from cardboard with straw glued on the roof and plastic figures. Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, an angel, Wise Men, a shepherd, three sheep and two cows. It had a red lightbulb that lit up the inside and a stable door that opened and closed. One of my very earliest memories is lying on my belly in the darkness of a tree lit room and reaching out to open the stable door. Face in hands, I studied the Christ Child, his Mommy and Daddy, and those who came to visit him and was absorbed into the scene. I pondered, “Was it cold in that barn? The animals are resting and quiet for the baby. Look how Mary loves Baby Jesus. Joseph is watching and taking care of them. Everyone is looking at the baby because he is so beautiful.” I was a little child, silent and calm, and had entered into the scene with my mind and heart.
Listen to these words with your heart:
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright,
round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.
Where do we find our silent, calm night? Where do we leave our crazy lives and enter into the very real holiness of Christmas? Where do we gaze at the Christ Child and see how beautiful He is and remember why He came?
Each Christmas, there is a moment when I meet Jesus on a deeper level and I open the stable door and walk into the nativity. It is different every year. When my children were small, on every Christmas Eve, before we tucked them in, I read the Christmas story to them from my Bible and lit the Christ candle in the center of an Advent wreath. Bill and I wanted their last thought before bed to be of Jesus. There were many years that I held back tears while I read as those beautiful words soaked into my heart. That was often the time I opened the door of the stable and entered. It might have been four hours before Christmas day, but it happened.
Listen once again:
Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord at thy birth. Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
The Christmas before last, my sweet little 95 year old momma was in a nursing home. As I had for many weeks, I visited her every day and read to her from a devotional and her Bible. In those moments, we sat together and listened to the scriptures and prepared our hearts for what would be a very different Christmas for us. For the first time in many years, Mom wouldn’t be getting ready for the family to come for Christmas dinner at the farm and I wouldn’t be going to my childhood home. But, together, we opened the door to the stable and walked in to worship the Christ Child. We sat in the light of God’s pure love for us that caused Him to send Jesus, our Savior, Who took our miserable sin on Himself to redeem us. To redeem means to set free by paying a price. Jesus came in pure love to free us from the consequences of our very human bad choices by paying our price on the cross.
My stable door moment came early this year when a few days ago I visited my precious friend, Dick, in the hospital. He was at the end of his long and faithful life and I had the privilege of sitting by his bed, trying to sooth him and reminding him of how loved he was. He was fretful and kept saying, “I want to go to my Savior. I have such a good Savior. I want to go to Jesus.” Before I left him, I prayed for him and sang his favorite hymn in my shaky voice. While I was singing, a beautiful smile came to his face and he gave me a thumbs up. At his funeral, I remembered that smile and rejoiced that Dick is with his Savior this Christmas. Once again, I opened the stable door to see Dick’s Savior, my Savior and yours, Who came as a baby.
Silent night, holy night, wondrous star, lend thy light.
With the angels let us sing, Alleluia to our King.
Christ the Savior is born. Christ the Savior is born.
I’m praying that in these days before Christmas, you will open the stable door and enter into the story of God’s Son. In your heart, may you go to your knees at the manger and worship the Christ Child who was born out of God’s pure love for you to be your Savior. Christ the Savior is born. God’s pure light and redeeming grace.
Christ our Savior is born!
For more about preparing your heart for Christmas, check out my handbook, Organizing for Joyful Holidays.
Join the Conversation on Facebook!