“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” Mark 1:3

In total transparency I am in that increasing percentage of people who do not enjoy many of the trappings of Christmas. The idea of shopping has never been on my top ten list; fortunately “gift cards and cash” has become my families number one request.

Then there is the concept of putting up the Christmas tree. I begin to think about the journey, the hunt if you will, of finding and then rescuing the Christmas tree ornaments in our garage attic.

My husband has been an avid antique collector for our 40 years.  At the Peters household, we have many large spaces filled with stuff including an 1885 year old barn, a grain outbuilding, a “retired” chicken coop, a cellar, garage and attic above the garage.

The path to the attic is not for the faint of heart. You first must navigate the steps, each piled with one of my husbands many ‘treasures’.  Once you have entered the attic it takes the hand of God and Moses staff to part a path from the front to the back and then again into the recessed eves where the Christmas stuff hides.

For many years, when our children were younger and they came home for Christmas, I navigated this treacherous expedition. But now they have homes of their own and we gladly accept their Christmas invitation to go to their house. If I am truly honest with myself… the path filled with clutter has become my excuse for not putting out Santa, the bulbs, lights and tinsel.

However, the path that is very clear is the one in my bedroom closet. On my top shelf sits a box, scribed in black magic marker ‘grandma’s nativity.’ I keep my eye on that box all year long, I can’t wait to set Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the kings, shepherds and animals in their right place in the center of our living room.

Guilt creeps in from time to time and then I begin using the one word I do not like…should. I should clear out that pathway in the attic, I should set up a tree,  I should bring down the Santa cookie jar.

But I don’t…instead, I treasure my grandmas nativity. Every time I look at it I am reminded of the night when Jesus was born, the night He changed the world. Our future was defined and our hope was secure.

Symbolically, I can look at the clutter in my life from a couple of perspectives. From one angle it is the sin, broken relationships, unfinished business, and regrets. Or I can rename “clutter” to experiences, memories, accomplishments, trinkets of joy and yes…even treasures.

We are in the time of Advent; a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of our Lord.

Whether it is a time of repentance or a time of gratitude, may you prepare your lives, your minds and your hearts to receive all that God has in store for us.

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