Advent Reflection: 24th December - Amy Boucher Pye

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Every day in Advent 2016 we will be sharing short reflections from authors, Christian charities and Eden team members.

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Finding Ourselves at Christmas

The Advent wreath glows brightly, candles burning; the cookies are baked; the empty boxes of decorations are stored back in the loft; the presents are wrapped and stashed under the tree. And finally the reality of Christmas happening dawns on me. The excitement of our kids kicks into high gear as the countdown reaches its culmination. Jesus Christ is born into our lives.

Our first Christmas as a married couple, when Nicholas was a curate, I tried to replicate exactly what was happening with my family back in Minnesota. I had never missed a Christmas with them as each year I’d fly back from Washington, DC, where I lived, to the family home. But having married a minister, for whom Christmas was a working holiday, the expectation of a guaranteed snowy holiday evaporated.

My mother’s German roots inform our gatherings at Christmas, and like many Northern European families, our main celebration of the holiday would occur on Christmas Eve. Around four or five pm, we’d go to church, always delayed when we were children by my usually on-the-ball mother who would forget something and need to go back inside (to play Santa and put out the gifts). After church we’d either dive into the presents or enjoy our dinner: the former when we were very little; the latter when we were old enough to wait and knew who Santa really was.

That first year in England I tried to make everything the same as what was happening in Minnesota, but I failed wildly with our special meal. My frustration over my miserable cooking attempt highlighted my deeper pain at not being with my parents, siblings, and adorable five-year-old niece and three-year-old nephew. What, I wondered, had I done in coming to this country?

We called my American family to wish them a merry Christmas, and it wasn’t long before my tears took over and I squeaked out how sad I was to be in England and not in Minnesota with them. My dad, wise and gentle, said, “Amy, you longed to be married. Now you are, and your home is with Nicholas.” He gently but firmly helped me to follow the biblical injunction to leave and cleave.

That disastrous first Christmas Eve meal, and the poignancy of trying to create everything just like it was in Minnesota, changed the way we approached Christmas Eve in the years that followed. We kept the importance of Christmas Eve from my point of view, but widened the celebrations to include people from the congregation, which makes the evening richer and more celebratory.

Our kids can’t imagine Christmas Eve any other way, with a feast sandwiched between the crib service and the midnight service. With a nod to my heritage of opening up all of the presents on Christmas Eve growing up, the kids open their stocking gifts when they get home from the crib service. They also get to do so without restraint, not having to wait their turn between presents, a system we enforce later.

In between the courses at our dinner we read the Christmas story and share in some prayers, thinking about how Mary said yes in obedience, Joseph believed the angel, God revealed his plan to lowly shepherds, and Jesus who is God is born in a stable. As I look around the faces at the table, I’m grateful.

However you are spending Christmas Eve – and indeed, Christmas Day – may you know the love of the Christ child who makes all things new and imparts his creativity, joy, and peace. To us a child is born. To us a son is given. And he shall be called Wonderful Counsellor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace. The one who makes all things new.


Adapted with permission from “The Light of Christ Has Come into Our World,” Finding Myself in Britain (Authentic Media, 2016). Amy Boucher Pye has also written the BRF 2017 Lent book: The Living Cross. Find her online at amyboucherpye.com.

24th December

December 24th, 2016 - Posted & Written by The Editor

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