A couple of years ago Anna had a promoting that our family should take part in the twelve days of Christmas. Instead of doing the twelve days following Christmas, as is traditionally done, she thought we ought to do it before, and do it in such a way as to be a blessing to others around us.
Anna took the song and reworked the lyrics into brief poems. She also assembled small gifts that represented the theme. Then the kids and I struck out to play the part of a Secret Santa, dropping off notes and packages in hopes of being undetected.
There was great excitement with each day, the poem creation, the gift acquisition, the drop off. We were experiencing the delightful expectancy of Christmas at a whole new level.
We felt like we were participating in the Christmas story, of God’s incarnation and blessing of all the world, in a similar fashion as John the Baptist and his parents.
In Luke’s Gospel, John’s birth story precedes Jesus’. John would be a forerunner -someone who helped prepare the way for Jesus. But there was more to John than the the role of a wildly dressed preacher with a crazy diet in the wilderness. He was an answer to a prayer by his longing parents. He was a source of delight for a couple who had quit praying for a child. When hope was gone, God’s grace entered in, and John appeared.
John had a big role to fill. He turned the hearts of fathers to their children and vice-versa. Maybe John's theatrical preaching would prompt fathers to tell bed time stories to their kids about the preacher they saw on their way home. Or maybe it was something else, like his own father doubting, being unable to speak and then finding joy. Whatever it was, John's birth was a means of preparing people, the members of his family, for an incredible expressions of God’s nearness and blessing.
As you and your family live into your gathered traditions of Christ’s birth, how might you prepare the way for Christ’s birth in a new and unexpected way? How could you be a part of preparing the way of joy for others in our community? How could you be a forerunner of all that God would like to do in the life of someone who could use some hope?