the shadow of the cross tree


The last four or five Christmas seasons has found me yearning to keep the practice of Advent; always at that lull time of year of Thanksgiving being over, and Christmas  looming.

“This year Christmas is going to be different. Spiritually significant”.

Then the common,secular, and necessary life lists start to stack and spill over.

About half way through the month of December “keeping Advent” becomes another chore, as inspiring and reverent as stocking up on batteries and picking up gifts cards. I had such high hopes for Ann Voskamp’s Advent solution this year:

The Greatest Gift: unwrapping the full love story of Christmas.

We even got a sapling pine from the woods and started (but never finished) the home-made ornaments based on her book. I went from guilt, to annoyance, to cynical acceptance… which is pretty much how I go through any and all emotional stressors in my life. And just gave up.

And then every year something else happens:

as those to do lists slowly get crossed off

as I just accept that Christmas is bloody expensive

as I just accept that not everything will get done…and no one cares

and the excitement of my girls over Christmas drawing near starts to stubbornly permeate my harried subconscious; like a pot of something good left on simmer on the back burner.  I recall that Christmas week is good and full of the expectations of something unique coming. The guy at liquor store, as I am checking our some Riesling wine said it expectantly best as he asks “how are you” and I relate a little bit of truth.  He says, offhandedly as the bottle slides into a narrow brown bag:

“man I remember that feeling as a kid, so excited, it’s the best, isn’t it?”

I just nod and tell him that he is absolutely right.

I once again have picked up and have been reading Ann’s devotions these last few days over coffee and my semi-lit living room. And it has been a gift to me.

In this last post till the New Year- I leave you with her words about what makes this whole Christmas thing unique and joyful, after the stress, after “5 months of bills” looming, after too much, too much…

It is Christmas that first makes the absolute claims of Christ. Like the diagnosis of a doctor, every other religion says that good-enough living will save us. But like a soul specialist, Christianity examines our hearts and says that actually we are all terminal unless we take Christ-that it’s Jesus that saves us.

Every Christmas tree in shadowed by the Cross Tree:

its at the tree that God does heart transplant-He takes your heart and does surgery. 

Christianity does not make narrow-minded claims.  It makes a different kind of diagnosis.  It’s not about being narrow-minded-its about offering a different kind of medicine. In the care of our own souls, Christianity isn’t so much about exclusiveness but about effectiveness.

What will actually save us?

Everyone, everywhere, looks forward to Christmas. And it is the joy of Christmas that offers the gift of exclusiveness- because of its effectiveness to save the terminal soul.

He. Will. Save.

God. With. Us.


God can’t stay away.

This is the love story that has been coming to you since the beginning.


Merry Christmas!



3 thoughts on “the shadow of the cross tree

  1. I/Emmanuel, I love that name, like poetry rolling from the tongue. A terminal soul, such an apt description Leah. I’m so late in wishing your lovely family a very merry Christmas, may you have time to relax and enjoy the celebrations. Our lunch with family is tomorrow (your Christmas day) ,have let some things slide and I strangely don’t mind at all, I want to relax too. God knows our hearts, and that’s all that matters. Have fun!


  2. Hey Leah, Just thinking of you and wanting to say Merry Christmas! I’m still around – just basically being anti-social in the online world. Anyway, thanks for your friendship. Much love, Jacqui


  3. Oh, and I love the creativity and feel of these pics. Beautiful. And I understand the whole giving up on advent 🙂 I’m not so good at it myself and figure giving myself grace is more important than being stressed!

    On Wed, Dec 25, 2013 at 8:31 PM, Jacqui Bennett wrote:

    > Hey Leah, Just thinking of you and wanting to say Merry Christmas! I’m > still around – just basically being anti-social in the online world. > Anyway, thanks for your friendship. > Much love, > Jacqui > > >


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