Calls into being things that were not

The holiday season is filled with music, plays and performances, gifts, and the sound of laughter and conversation at parties.

Where are you this holiday season?

I am ever aware and listening to my heart as well as the heart of others. Loss, unfulfilled dreams, stress, and illness are conversations in passing and gathering, along with the joy that fills your soul because of the true meaning behind the season.

A friend recommends a song called “Mary Did You Know” by Maverick City Music.

I listen to this version of an old familiar song. Parish and I used to perform this song together. I did the interpretive movement, and he sang the song as a solo. Fond and treasured memories. I’m listening and praying. I realize that Christmas has changed through the years. The first Christmas was about political unrest, poverty, unexpected travel, physical and emotional pain, and the unbelievable lack of room or space to bring God’s promise to fruition. Did Mary know beyond her “here and now” the promise? We often hear in project management or setting of goals “to begin with the end in mind.” It has been over 2,000 years, and we, like Mary, contend with circumstances over the promise.

We were not there with Mary. We have scripture and our interpretation of what it may have been like, yet, it is clouded with modern conveniences and our life experiences. If we pause long enough to contemplate what the journey to Bethlehem would have been like, we can imagine a Christmas that perhaps didn’t seem like something from a Hallmark movie. What is our fascination with Christmas movies that stir up hot cocoa, warm fuzzies, and tears? Is it our desperate attempt to make Christmas a perfect, happy ending?

There is this moment in which Mary and Joseph behold God. He has come, and they hold all the perfect love in the cradle of their arms. That moment is our gift. This is Christmas. To be attached to His love in the promise fulfilled.

So many words this month as I seek to attach to Him.

Clearing.

Letting go.

Hesed.

Korban.

“This is clearing of the most intense sort. It is a kind of clearing that unsettles me because straight paths and level ground do not always strike me as the most interesting thing in the world. And yet I am drawn to that image and to its promise that what has been chaotic will be calmed and what has been disturbed will become smooth, will become peaceful, will become a way that we can travel with freedom and with ease. The smaller clearings give us a glimpse of this. They enable us to practice the difficult art of making room, of relaxing our hold on what might be blocking our path, of asking God to be at work in our resistance, that we might be part of the way by which Christ enters again and anew. ” Jan Richardson, Illuminated 2022 Advent

Christmas day will come and go. How can we make room for Christ to enter again anew? What does that look like for you?

I can tell you that it doesn’t mean that everything will be perfect. Close your eyes and think of Mary and Joseph again. All is well when we understand that Christmas is not about warm fuzzies and joyous laughter; it is about attaching and clinging to the One who is Christmas. Whatever is in your way, holding you back, and causing you confusion can simply be why you find yourself “anew in Christ.”

Last night I heard a testimony from a man who has been changed spiritually. He was incarcerated. He opened his talk with, “incarceration was the beginning of my freedom.” Our church ministers in Chesterfield County Jail. This man went through our sponsored program and shared his “new.” He began his story with this verse from Romans 4:17-18, “…the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not…”

Things that were not.

If you lack this Christmas in peace and joy, let the God of all comfort bring you life, and practice prayer, believing, and calling things that are not what God promises.

A father and son who made a life out of selling and using drugs shared their story. A son in his 40s and a father much older found their way together to the manger and the cross. The son’s mother prayed for years for their salvation. And, in God’s way, and in His time, life was given.

Before attending the service, I had taken a quick, 10-minute nap. I needed a rest. When I awoke, a voice in my mind said, “Anna, if you want to heal from your loss and past, you have to change your future.” It was so clear and startling. I cognitively understand what that means. You do, too. However, what does that look like? As I draw near to Him, He will answer.

A friend said that God is pursuing her this advent season despite the chaos and stress. She sees Him. I listen to a song on a walk, “A thousand generations falling down in worship.
To sing the song of ages to the Lamb…” I see houses along the way, celebrating with decorations. This home, on purpose, shares the Christmas story.

Mary, did you know? Could you see into the future? Can we begin with the end in mind?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Charlie Hankins says:

    Is this my cousin Anna Hebb?If so, how is your mom Louise doing?We were sorry to hear of Shirley’s passing.God bless you for your thought-provoking devotional messages.Thanks for linking me into them. Charles Hankins

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charles!
      Hello my cousin! Yes, this is Anna Hebb, Louise’s daughter. She is doing great at 92 years old. Strong and healthy. She continues to live with Parish and I. This space can be yours, too! I’d love for you to email me family stories and pictures and I can post. It’s good to remember our loved ones, and I want my children to know their family. Many blessings to you and your family. Anna Hebb

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  2. Charlie Hankins says:

    Anna, I’m retrying to send you this message which did not work on 12/24:

    Thanks for sharing these Christ-mas karaoke songs and pics. I remember you singing the “Thank You” song for your Grandmother Veora Pierce’s funeral whom we cousins affectionately grew up calling “Aint Duck”.Our girls sang that also at my dad’s funeral some years later. Attached is the most recent family shot from this summer, showing:Front: Katelyn (D3-8), Charley (D2-9), Deacon (D4-4), Bishop (D1-10)Middle: Rebecca (D4), Emily (D3), Melissa (D2), Carolyn (Nanna), Allison (D1), Joseph (D2-12), Ronan (D1-14)Back: Charles (Papa), Chris (D4), Joe (D2)(Missing: Barrett (D1) and Eddie (D3)) Also including our wedding pic of us and our parents for reflections of the past.Plus a scanned collage of your Aunt Mary which you mom shared the originals of which with us for Mama’s 90th birthday party and we never got to return it to her. Give your mom a Christmas hug and kiss for us Merry Christmas to you and all your family! Charles Hankins

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    1. OH, THIS IS WONDERFUL! Let me see if I can find the pictures, and especially the one you give me the names for. More later….

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