When it comes to family excursions, I never tell my kids where we’re going. Instead, I call every outing an “adventure.” I just tell them what to wear, what to bring, and when to get in the car. So when we went to Crossing Life Church’s narrated Christmas hayride on Saturday night, my kids had no idea what to expect.
For forty-five minutes we waited in line, in the cold. But it was a beautiful night, a splendor of stars in the sky. They had hot cocoa to sip, and we took turns getting out of line to warm up by the bonfire. Finally, after our long wait, we climbed into the haywagon with excitement. Having kept the details a secret, my kids still didn’t really know what was in store.
It was amazing! The church organizers had choreographed pre-recorded narration and music for multiple lit-up scenes spaced throughout the forty-five-acre property. As the wagon approached each different scene in the woods, the music matched the display. For example, the song “You’re A Mean One” played for The Grinch display. The song “Let It Go” played for the Frozen display, and so on.
The finale of the event was a live nativity scene at the peak of a hill. They stopped the hay ride there so people could either gaze at the scene in awe from the wagon, get off and look up close, or warm up at another bonfire blazing on the other side of the hill.
My husband and my son Mason were on the bonfire side of the wagon. Mason was mesmerized by the fire’s glow and the kids toasting marshmallows.
When I tore my eyes away from the beautiful Baby Jesus in the live nativity scene, I asked Mason what he thought of it. Come to find out, he had no idea it existed! Everyone on my side of the wagon had blocked his view. I found myself saying, “Oh, Mason. You have to come look. This is the whole point of the evening!”
“They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear…” Ezekiel 12:2
I could hear “this is the whole point” echoing in my head. I think God has been whispering that to me for weeks, as I focused on our outing to get our Christmas tree, decorated my house, planned fun activities, made lists of gifts to buy, and on and on. All of those things piled up, one on top of the other, creating a wall that blocked my view of “the whole point” of Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ.
Can you imagine standing outside, on a cold December night in New England, for almost an hour, and then missing the grand finale of what you came for? If I’m not careful, if I spend my entire Advent distracted by the glow of decorations and gifts, I’m going to miss the grand finale too, one that’s far more spectacular than any hayride or fireworks display.
Yes, Jesus is here with us each and every day of the year. But Advent is when we anticipate and celebrate His birth. He came as a helpless and humble baby just to save us from this messy and troubled world. How can we not honor and celebrate that?
My hope is that you’re all having a deep and meaningful Advent. But if you’re not, if you haven’t found Him yet, what is blocking your view?
Copyright 2017 Claire McGarry