We rehearsed it as we went from house to house. “Merry Christmas,” we would practice. By the time we got to the next one, the anticipation of ringing the doorbell was too much and the words would fail him. He would just stick out his hand holding the bag of gingerbread to give to our neighbor.  Despite our rehearsals and our plans, our three year old is our wild card.  Our surprise.

I love the intentional time this season gives to shower those around us with love. The gifts thoughtfully purchased and delicately wrapped. The stove watched over as the gingerbread loaves reach completion to show love to neighbors. The decorations hung around the house to usher in the joy of the season.

The list that once caused me anxiety now gives me a sense of relief as each item is crossed off in completion

Now comes the real Christmas.

A virgin shall conceive and bear a son. The essence of the story – showing up in every detail – is that the action of the story comes from God and not from us.  Not from our thoughts, not from our actions, not from our intentions.  A virgin shall conceive.  The child born not from anything that Mary or Joseph did or did not do.  The child born simply from God’s action in the world.

This is God’s story and not just our story.  It is the story of God’s action…. a story that shouts “SURPRISE…the greatest gift to humanity happens through you but not because of you.”  Born in a stable – without the proper human preparations, without the appropriate reservations, without the hearts of the community ready to receive.  Outside of their expectations, SURPRISE.

So now I pack all the presents and finish all the preparations.  I loosen my grip and I do my best to show up.  I remind myself that this life of mine is God’s story and not just my own story.

I ask for peace of mind that I may be present.and.wait in the mystery for God to shout SURPRISE…for God to work through me but not because of me.  And then hope that I can keep my eyes open and my heart soft and my hands ready to receive.

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