Advent 2021

Witness: Sunday, December 12, 2021

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Witness: LuAnn Gilbert

Scripture: Proverbs 3:5Psalm 24:1-10

Weekly Theme: Joy

Growing up in the northern snowy realms of this country meant that a perfect Christmas consisted of white fluffy snow floating in the air and accumulating on the ground. The perfect tree proudly appearing in all of its glory in your front window for all to see, and the stockings hung just so. Bright festive wrapping and bows covering the multitude of gifts under the tree, everything in its perfect place at the right time. Now we can have Christmas!

When I grew up and had a family of my own, I thought that’s exactly how it had to play out for it to be a real Christmas. I had allowed my understanding of what Christmas should look like and be like to shadow the beauty and simplicity of what it is all about. My life lesson came in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in 1983, Praise God.

We had moved there with a job transfer, and our boys were 7 and 4.  It was December 1st, but I didn’t feel like decorating; it was 80 and sunny. Our family couldn’t come down until after Christmas, and those beautiful Christmas sweaters I had purchased for the boys last year could not be worn in this weather. The boys were having fun going to school, making new friends, and talking excitedly about Christmas. Our oldest son Aaron came home one day and said he wanted to become Jewish because his friend Michael gets a present every day for 12 days for Hannukah. Great, I thought, we’ll just postpone Christmas until we can go back north.

I was sad and couldn’t believe God had put us here… as I moped about and was sweeping the sand from our front porch, my neighbor Betty stopped by. Why aren’t you decorating for Christmas? I told her there’s nothing here in this place that reminds me of Christmas, and I hate it. She was older and much wiser than me, and she gently asked me to look around… what is that planted under your front window? It is big and beautiful. I guess it’s a poinsettia, I said. She then asked, what is the tree in your front yard? Well, it’s an Olive tree, I answered. And again, she asked, what is that you are sweeping? It’s sand, I replied. You are right, she softly said, all of these things would have been familiar sights in Bethlehem on that very first Christmas. That made me think about my attitude and realize that Christmas isn’t about a place or climate. She invited us over for cookies and to see all of her decorations that evening. We had such a lovely time. I began to decorate our home and sing Christmas carols the next day. Remember, I told you about Michael, Aaron’s friend who was Jewish? His mom called and said that Michael wanted to have a cool tree, stockings, and Christmas Eve this year. I told her that my son wanted to be Jewish, we laughed. So we went to their home for a traditional meal for Hannukah that year and learned more about them and their traditions. Michael’s family came over for Christmas Eve with our family.

It was one of the best Christmases ever…. no snow and no stockings hanging from a fireplace, but there was friendship, love, laughter, and a new understanding that God had revealed to me.  Since then, I’ve trusted God to provide the perfect Christmas for every Christmas.

Daily Prayer:  Dear Lord, please help me see past my understanding of things. Help me accept that you have more profound lessons to teach me through experiences that I didn’t plan. Thank you, God, for your plans for my life and for the unexpected blessings that come with them.  Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. Think of a time when your plan didn’t gel with reality? What was your attitude about the unexpected?
  2. Can you remember a time when your perfect plan didn’t work, but God’s plan was even better than you could have ever imagined?

3 thoughts on “Witness: Sunday, December 12, 2021”

  1. LuAnn, A beautiful story with a lesson for all of us. God’s plan is always better. Thank you for sharing. Blessings….

  2. I love love love your prayer. I’ve copied it and put in on our bathroom mirror. Thank you. Sue Flowers

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