Until last year, the only significance that the 25 days of Christmas held for me was the opportunity to watch feel-good holiday movies on ABC Family. I grew up with stories of Santa on the shelf next to those about Jesus, and the extent of my religious observance of the holiday was A Charlie Brown Christmas. “Advent” was the name of the little cardboard calendar with chocolates in it.

My renewed relationship with God and my identity as a mother have changed that.

Now I sit quietly, contemplating the season of anticipation that began just as quietly only a few hours ago. I look at my own sleeping child next to me and I remember the last 25 days before he entered the world, so I have some idea of the very human thoughts that must have run through Mary’s head – and yet, the magnitude of her holy charge is something I can hardly begin to imagine. On top of real and timely concerns about travel, safety, and when and where she might deliver, Mary had the anticipation of giving life to the Savior.

This Advent season dawns on a broken world filled with hurt, hate, and despair. But we are blessed because we also have the hope that Mary carried with her in those last weeks of pregnancy – we know, as only she and Joseph did then, that the Christ child will be born to restore and renew the brokenness.

We know that He was “pleased with us in flesh to dwell,” willing to become one of us so that he could show us the way.

We know that Christ dwells in each of us, making our hands and feet the hands and feet of God.

What an amazing gift, what a humbling charge. We each have been called as Mary was called to carry the Christ child and bring Him forth into a world that needs Him more than ever. When we give our time, our gifts, and our prayers to the least among us, we are giving them Christ.

When we stand with one another in biblical obedience to His Great Commandment, we are showing Christ to the world.

When we love all of God’s children and can fathom the unfathomable beauty of His creation, we are bringing forth Christ all over again.

Let us welcome Advent as Mary did, with love and anticipation but also with action to protect and nurture the holy gift we have been given.

Shannon Trenton

Shannon Trenton is a writer, wife, and mother to an adorable little boy and two cats. She is also an Exploring Candidate in the East Ohio Conference of The UMC, where she hopes to further her passion for ministering in love and grace to all believers. She believes, "we are blessed so that we may be a blessing," and she wants to share God's love and grace with everyone she meets!

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