In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. ~Luke 1:39-44
This week I was able to drive up to Williams to look at the camp for next years All Church Family Camp. When I take these sort of road trips, I typically take one of my children with me. One reason for this is to provide a little stimulation for me while I drive, and another reason is to let them experience something new and exciting. This trip to Williams was no different, and the child of choice was my youngest, Jude, as he was the only one not in school.
After dropping off my older two at school, Jude, my father (he wanted to see some of Arizona he hadn’t seen before too), and I headed up to Williams. As we prepared for the journey, we grabbed light jackets in preparation of the slight change in temperature from Scottsdale to Williams. As we were driving north on the 17, it didn’t really hit me until it was too late that it had rained in Scottsdale this past weekend, meaning there would probably be snow on the ground in Williams.
Although I have not lived in a place where it has snowed in over 10 years, growing up in the Mid-West snow is something I am accustomed to. It is something that is nice to look at from a distance, and even nicer to drive to when you want to enjoy it, but snow is not something that really excites me as much as it did when I was a kid. When I was a kid, snow brought joy because it often meant a snow day. In Indiana, we didn’t get a lot of snow days, a day it snows so much they cancel school, but when we knew it was going to snow, we would wait up late at night to see if our school had been canceled the next day. Finding out that it had been canceled the day before was the best because it meant you could sleep in the next day. However, it was no less spectacular to get up in the morning and see that your school day had been canceled.
My kids they have never known this joy. Of my three children, only Trey, my oldest, has been in real snow before. They have been in the man-made kind at parks or winter festivals, but only Trey has seen the real stuff. Snow, for my children, is often looked at as a mythical creature, something that they have only heard stories and rumors about, but haven’t ever witnessed for themselves. Because of this, my daughter has made me promise to take her to see real snow this year.
When we first pulled into the camp, Jude was asleep so he didn’t notice the snow we passed on our drive. So when I woke him up to get out of the car he was taken aback to see snow on the ground. When he got out of the car the first thing he did was run over to the snow - and the smile on his face was priceless. He poked it at first. Then he grabbed it in his hand. Then he proceeded to throw a snowball at Grandpa, then at Dad, and then at a tree and a rock. It wasn’t too long before the realization of how cold snow is started to sink in, as his hands started to get cold. Do you think that stopped him? No. I warmed them up for him and back off he was to play in the snow. The pure joy that snow brought to Jude brought joy to me in a way that snow hadn’t since I was a kid. Snow was once again was something that I no longer took for granted, but something I looked forward to seeing again.
After the angel of the Lord told Mary that she was going to have a child, the first thing she did was go she her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth, who was much older than Mary, and who was barren, was also going to have a child. Despite the excitement that Elizabeth had for her own pregnancy and planning for the birth of her own child, John the Baptist, when Mary arrived she didn’t make it about herself. Elizabeth made it about Mary, and we are told that she was excited for Mary. She didn’t let her own life distract from the importance of what was happening through Mary in the birth of Jesus. In fact, we are told that even Elizabeth’s unborn baby leapt with joy at the sound of Mary’s voice.
Often in the hustle and bustle of being adults we lose sight of the joy that surrounds Christmas. We get busy making travel plans, buying presents, going to parties and we get distracted. As we get older, we often start to take Christmas for granted and it becomes something else to add to our to-do list. The “joy” of Christmas often gets replaced by the reality and the busyness of our lives leading up to Christmas. We find ourselves looking forward - getting beyond Christmas to a time when things settle back down and become less hectic. But that is not what Christmas is about.
This week we lit the Advent candle of Joy in anticipation of the joy that Christ’s birth will bring. As we approach Christmas, don’t let what is going on in our lives take away from the joy that is Christmas. No matter how many times you have heard the Christmas story, I hope that this year you will find joy as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.