This season of Advent is as never picture perfect as any other in our home. I believe Ann Voskamp reminds us in her book that our goal is praising God, not perfection. We’ve certainly fit that bill at our house, but that’s OK.
We’ve had a pretty nasty cold going around our house for the last week. My two youngest were sniffing and coughing away, ping-ponging back and forth the hacking cough, punctuated by their father reminding them to cough in their elbows, not in his face, while my oldest daughter took her turn reading The Advent Book. She just got her braces off, and the retainer was too loose, so she sounded like a little old lady with a cold and slipping dentures. “Josheph (cough, cough)wash to name (sniff)the baby Jeshush, (please cough in your elbow) becaush he would shave hish (cough, cough)people from their shins …” You get the idea. But the candles burned brightly in the darkness, and the little ones peered at the pictures behind the doors, and we remembered.
Now, if your Advent has been more put together than this, rejoice. If (like us), the Jesse Tree you got on clearance at Target three years ago is already covered with ornaments and you can’t figure out where to put 12 more; if your kids nearly melt your tablecloth with the candle snuffer every night; if your preschooler thinks on Night 12 of Advent, your song should be the 12 days of Christmas instead of Away in a Manger, you’re in good company. If you’re gazing at your 14 year-old fake tree that loses more needles than a live tree, wondering how to make it lean a little less than it has for the past 4 years, and you notice a platoon of plastic army men have invaded and taken up defensive positions (does someone really want to steal all the paper plate angels my kids have made over the years?), take heart. If the children are leading worship on the stage at church, and your child is the one with the unscheduled potty break right in the middle, and the other child throws both his scarves off the stage in glee (yep, both mine), relax.
Do you really think the sometimes stressful attempts at perfection we adults try to create in worship at Christmas or Advent are any more enjoyable to the Father? I can’t really answer that since I haven’t asked Him personally, but we do have record of what Jesus told the Pharisees who were offended by the children praising God. I have no doubt that some of those wee ones were wacking each other on the head with the palm branches while they waited for Jesus to pass, but when He did and they cried “Hosanna, son of David” the Pharisees demanded to know if Jesus heard them. “Yes, have you never read “Out of the mouths of children and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” I suspect that no matter how perfect we make our worship appear , the Father, Son and Holy Spirit indulgently smile at our childishly crude, though heartfelt attempts to shower them with our love. It’s the heart of the worshipper that matters much more that the trappings we can get so absorbed in getting just right.
So sit back and relax, and enjoy this time with your kids. You don’t have to make it look perfect or be perfect. That’s the whole point of His coming, right? Because we can never be perfect by ourselves. We can never be good enough to even stand in the presence of the Father, so He sent His Son as our perfect offering of salvation. So the pressure is off for a perfect Christmas–it already happened and we simply can’t improve on that.