By Debby Giusti
The Fourth Sunday of Advent usually finds me still tackling items on my Christmas to-do list. I’m a “just in time” type of person who balances what needs to be done with the deadline in mind and rarely finishes ahead of schedule. More often than not, I complete projects on the assigned due date. For that reason, I’m usually racing to finish my holiday preparations up until Christmas Eve.
Although there’s always something more that needs to be done, I’ve learned to include moments of prayer and reflection into my Advent agenda to ensure I focus on the real meaning of Christmas. With the approaching holiday, I often think back to a very special Christmas—years ago—when the Lord intervened into the hustle and bustle of my life and allowed me to enter more fully into the Christmas story.
I was pregnant with our second child, and the baby was due on December 19. With youthful exuberance, I expected to deliver on or before that date so the baby and I could be home from the hospital to celebrate Christmas with my husband, our eighteen-month-old daughter and my parents who had arrived a week earlier in anticipation of their second grandchild’s birth.
Much to my surprise, the days passed without any sign of encroaching labor. As Christmas neared, I threw myself wholeheartedly into the final holiday tasks. My mother and I baked cookies and pies. We purchased the turkey and made side dishes to enjoy with our Christmas meal. Last minute presents were wrapped, stockings hung and the house readied for the coming of the Christ Child. By Christmas Eve, I was confident my baby would be born well after the holiday.
God had other plans.
The first contraction hit bright and early Christmas morn. After Mass, gifts were exchanged and presents opened, and we enjoyed our long held holiday traditions throughout the morning. But as the day progressed, the Lord turned my focus from our family celebration to that first Nativity so long ago. Feeling the baby within me preparing to be born, I thought of the Infant Jesus coming into the world, giving himself as gift to all. My warm surroundings were palatial in comparison to the humble beginnings of the King of Kings, and with each contraction, I envisioned the Holy Family in that cold and drafty stable. I heard the lowing cattle, the soft bleating of the lambs and the swish of the donkey’s tail as I entered more deeply into the manger scene. My relationship with the Blessed Mother grew even stronger while we labored together, and in my mind’s eye, I saw the words of scripture fulfilled when “she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes.”
That evening, our son was born, a beautiful baby we named Joseph.
Today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 1:18-24) focuses on Saint Joseph’s acceptance of the angel’s message and his obedience to take Mary as his wife. Jesus’ foster father is a strong role model for all of us just as he has been for our son, now grown with a family of his own. I often recount to him the story of that special Christmas when God removed me from the busyness of life and allowed me to experience Christmas in a very real and tangible way. I also remind our son that only special people share a birthday with the Lord.
During these last few days of Advent, I hope all of us will find time to enter into the wonder of that first Christmas when shepherds knelt in adoration and angels proclaimed Glory to God. If we listen close enough, we might even hear the sweet cooing of the Christ Child.
Do you have a personal Christmas story to share?
About the author:
Debby Giusti is a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of Christian suspense with more than one million books in print. Her work has won numerous accolades, including two Daphne du Maurier Awards for Inspirational Suspense, the National Readers’ Choice Award and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. Her twenty-sixth novel, Her Forgotten Amish Past, was released in November and Dangerous Amish Inheritance will be published in 2020. A lifelong Catholic, Army wife and mother of three, Debby shares the love of Christ, one story at a time. Visit Debby: www.DebbyGiusti.com and https://www.facebook.com/debby.giusti.9