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Advent 2

Eleven months ago, on Christmas morning, I found out I was pregnant. When that magic word showed up on the digital test, I looked at John, and for maybe the first and last time in my life, I was literally speechless. How could this be? After a traumatic pregnancy and birth with Becca, I was afraid that my body would never be able to bear another child. Over two years of waiting and numerous medical interventions convinced me that it was not to be. But here was the proof.

I didn’t know how long it would last or how things would turn out, pregnancy being a risky business for my body, but I knew that, at that moment, I was pregnant. That is a moment I will keep in my heart forever. In his sermon that morning, John told the story of Becca’s birth and her – dare I say it? – miraculous survival. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this new, tiny child and wondering what the future held for us.

As I led a rather rambunctious children’s worship session, I realized that I was not the first mother to sit in wonder and terrified joy on Christmas morning. After that silent night in Bethlehem, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were visited by a group of shepherds, straight from the fields, whom I can only imagine were about as refined as the hyped-up kids sitting in my circle. I expect that there was much rejoicing and celebrating at both gatherings. In fact, Luke 2:17-18 tells us, “After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” There was so much joy that they couldn’t keep it inside!

We see in the next verse that Mary reacted differently: “But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over.” I get that now. Mary wanted to keep everything about that moment. She knew that this was just the beginning of a life that would not be without its difficult bits. So that morning, she tried not to lose any of it. She pondered. She treasured. She kept the joy so that when the sadness came, she still had those magical, joyous moments in her heart somewhere.

The Advent journey towards Christmas is not always easy. The joy and sorrow in life often go hand in hand. There may be times this month when you are overwhelmed by joy. There may be times when sorrow spills in. That’s okay. My prayer is that each of us will have at least one stop on this Advent journey that we’d like to keep. And if there are darker moments along the way, may you be able to look back and find a moment so full of joy that you have kept it for all times.

It’s only fitting that I’m writing this as a little boy in swaddling clothes snoozes away beside me. I’m not saying he’s the messiah or anything, but he is a pretty swell kid who smiles more than Buddy the Elf.

I think I’ll keep him.