Saturday, December 02, 2006

Waiting and Trees

Christmas at the Ingle house meant the children would need to wait. My dad hurried to finish year-end business responsibilities, and my mother, on the other hand, directed many Christmas festivities at her school, our church, and with the extended family.

My big brother, Chris, felt the same angst that I did. We wanted Christmas. By mid-December, we usually saw no hint of decorations. Our parents’ scheduled filled with responsibilities, and they had a plan for Christmas. It always happened for us. However, if Chris and I could not see the tree in the living room, then we doubted if Santa would come that year.

Chris decided one year that we would handle the problem. Christmas was less than a week away, and no one saw any glimpse of a tree. We walked outside to play, but he had instructed me of our mission. With a quick knock on the door and a “Can you play?”, we went and collected the kids on the block. The children filed out and formed the ranks behind our 11-year-old commander, my big brother.

Armed with a hatchet and a camouflage cap, Chris gave us his orders. We would march through the woods behind the house, find the most beautiful tree in the forest, chop it down, and then drag it back. When my parents came outside, they would see the tree on the back porch, and then we could have Christmas.

Angie, Midge, Emily, Chip, Dana, David, and Daniel joined Chris and me (along with our basset hound, Buck the Wonder Dog) as we trudged through the woods. The perfect tree emerged during our hike, and Chris cleared the way and began chopping. The little hatchet went to work, and the Giant Cedar fell to the ground. The children stepped around the tree, reached in, and everyone began to pull. Since I was only seven, I found myself barely holding on to the top of the tree. In fact, I had to run with Buck to keep up with everyone.

When we finally reached the house, we screamed for Mom. Dad grabbed his chainsaw and cut the top out of our 25-foot tree. That year, the top of our home cut tree sat in the living room. Our parents were so proud. Most importantly, our family was prepared and ready for the Christmas season.

As the Advent season begins, we remember the birth of Jesus. This season offers us a period to wait and pray for everyone to be reconciled with God and with each other. Advent allows us to “prepare the way of the Lord.” Our waiting is greater than patience until our gifts come; instead, we are waiting for peace on earth through a greater connection.

Throughout Scriptures, we see people waiting and preparing. The prophets waited for the Messiah and prepared the way for Jesus by telling the truth that burned in their hearts. After Jesus died, His followers waited for His return. The disciples waited a few days between Jesus’ ascension and the time in which God sent His Spirit.

Preparing involves action beyond just waiting. When we prepare, we engage ourselves in the days prior to our expected event. Instead of tapping our toes for a Christmas tree, Chris spurred us to walk outside and find the tree. The time came to start chopping!

This Advent season, the time has come to get moving. As we wait for the sacred day of Christmas, may we prepare for it by opening our hearts to God and to each other. In the midst of our crazy season, the Messiah is alive in our hearts.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mary Beth said...

Lovely! Thanks.

5:15 AM  
Blogger jledmiston said...

In my husband's family growing up, their tradition was to put up the tree on Christmas Eve (and then keep it up until Valentine's Day, but that's another story having less to do with theology than an aversion to cleaning.)

Merry Advent to you -

8:18 AM  

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