“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
In our house, our tree is decorated with treasures and relics from our life together. We don’t do a themed Christmas tree, we don’t have a magazine-worthy Christmas tree, but we do have a story-filled Christmas tree. Every ornament is painstakingly packed every January into a bag or box with a label detailing the date we acquired it and the story that ornament represents. We have a purple hippo on skis because when Lily was 2 she walked around saying “Baby Heee-po” all the time. I still don’t know why, but I have remembered that tiny detail of her early words because we have written it down.
We have ornaments that represent the big moments too, we have a globe filled with sand and seashells with “Mele Kalikimaka 1999” written on it. Jeff and I purchased it on our honeymoon in Kauai, at a Christmas shop that was playing that song as we purchased it. I remember wondering if they play that song on repeat all day long, just for tourists like us.
These ornaments (and their corresponding ziploc bag) tell our family story. The Advent story is like those ornaments that we pull out, these are old stories that we know by heart. There are only a few ways to tell that story and only a couple of ways to study the texts. In the Advent podcast from She Reads Truth, hosts Rachel & Amanda say that “revisiting the old verses and those old testament prophecies and Gospel narratives is unpacking and feeling the history that we share, that the Church shares, that our family shares.”
Author John Green keeps notes in the margins of his books and his Notes app on his phone. Green says that rereading old books & notes provides some self-discovery into his past stories. He will see snippets of things he has written he has made that return him to his past and remind him of his thinking at various points. These are reminders of things he would otherwise have forgotten. That is the power of rereading the Advent scriptures, too. The stories we know bring us back to our history and to Jesus. They are ingrained in us and we rediscover them weave them into our lives again.
So unpack your Christmas story as you unpack Jesus’ story. Come back to Scriptures and rediscover our shared stories.