This devotion is based on 2nd Samuel 7:1-11 and Luke 1:26-38, two of the lectionary texts for December 21, 2014 – the fourth Sunday of Advent.
After a disastrous breakfast time, full of food-throwing and kicking legs (two sets of legs), I announced to my family—my husband, my 4-year-old and almost 2-year-old—“I am taking a bath. I don’t want anyone to join me. I don’t want anyone to knock on the door. I don’t want to see the door handle move. I don’t want anything slid under the door. If anyone has to go potty, she may use the OTHER POTTY—there are TWO in this house.”
Hopeful, but realistic about my early morning demands, I turned on the bath water, added a few drops of baby oil, lit a 10-cent tea candle, and pulled out a jar from a secret stash labeled “calming sugar scrub.” We shall see, oh jar.
After fishing out a toy boat, a mermaid, and a racecar, I stepped into the bathtub. Slowly, I sank further into the warm water and felt a graininess lining the bathtub’s wall. The leftovers of the previous night’s de-sanding of the children had not been properly rinsed away. Oh well, I thought, people pay money for mud baths.
I leaned back and suddenly felt a drop of cold water on my forehead. I looked up to see the saturated red locks of the mermaid Ariel leaning over the edge of the bathtub catchall. Annoyed but determined, I declared, I will not be moved! Well emotionally, I would not be moved. Physically, I shifted my backover a little and let my hair and ears move below the water’s surface.
All I could hear was the movement of the water. Whatever might be stirring up outside of the bathroom was no longer of concern to me. And as I sat, warmed and on my way to a brief moment of quiet relaxation, I let a smile of gratitude slide over my face. I was beginning to forget the chaos outside—the cream cheese-filled hair, the piles of soggy cereal, the argumentative transition of pajamas to school clothes—and remembering the random declarations of “I love you, Mommy,” the soggy kisses, and the drive-by back hugs.
I was grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful for the season of chaos, in life and in this time of year. I love the Christmas season. I love red bows and bright lights and familiar tunes. But I feel something different this season. It’s not indifference; I feel just as giddy as in years past thinking about watching loved ones open presents.
This year, I hear a call back to focus on the covenant mentioned in 2 Samuel. Embedded in these verses is a continuance of God’s relationship with the people of Israel. And it’s in that relationship—build God a house and God will make you a home—that I hear God saying, “Eh, Christmas? You can have Christmas. Give me your moments and your days.”
I believe that the Advent season is important, the focus on Hope and Joy and Peace and Love is a beautiful time of reflection on and for our faith! But when we have the opportunity to come up out of the waters renewed, it is important to remember that we have an active part in the moment by moment and day by day relationship with God. This is the substance of this holy experience called Life, which exists from birth to death.
This is the thing that we take with us, into the temporary chaos of typical mornings and into the overwhelming chaos of global tragedy.
I hear commitment to this relationship in Mary’s words—the girl who carried the embodiment of God’s promise—I hear in her words a bold faith: “Let it be with me.”
Oh yes, dear Lord, I will make room for you. Let it be with me.
Stephanie Little Coyne is associate pastor for administration and family ministries at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, Lousiana. You can read more of her work on her blog, A Redhead’s Revelations.