It was the first Sunday in Advent & my husb& & I were having our usual leisurely coffee brunch after all the duties of the morning & the noon-hour. Two church services & the important weekly phone calls to my father & other family members were behind us for another week.
My husb&, rather gingerly, brought up the subject of Christmas, knowing that I was immersed in the full bloom of grief. Mom had died on Labor Day & this was the first Christmas to be marked without her. I did not “feel” like Christmas.
Despite my fog of misery, I knew that I was being somewhat self-absorbed in my pain. Life was going on all about me but, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get through this time. Everybody was busy & happy, having parties & family gatherings. I shrank inside. The thought of smiling & pretending I was joyful was painful for me. What was I going to do?
I remembered the devotional reading from Romans that I had morning, “The night is far gone, the day is near. . . let us put on the armor of light . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The season celebrating His birth & looking for His coming again was upon me & I was being called to participate. But it was beyond me to rejoice!
As I said these things to my husb&, he reminded me that God is able, even if I was not. He mentioned the parable of the mustard seed to me. God could take that little mustard seed & make of it something worthy. God could take that tiny seed of faith & grow it into a kingdom of hope.
I felt as if I had been touched. I got up & went to the kitchen & rifled through my spices. Yes! There it was. My bottle of mustard seeds. I got one out & grabbed a piece of paper from the pad by our phone & taped that mustard seed to the center.
I returned to the dining room, waving the paper triumphantly. “I’ve got it! I’ve got it! I can celebrate this year.”
My husb& said, “Here, let’s put it up on the mantel. It’ll be our first Christmas decoration.” Up it went. Every time I looked at it, I was reminded of the hope it symbolized & the faith it embodied. I couldn’t do it on my own. But God could. And God did!
The mustard seed became a powerful witness in our house last year. Many people asked about it & it became a growing joy to share what it meant. The mustard seed again graces our mantelpiece to symbolize light in the darkness, hope in the face of grief & despair & faith in the promises of God. My prayer is that, in the midst of difficult times, you will find hope; I pray that a mustard-seed Christmas may be yours.
Charlene Elizabeth Fairchild is a freelance writer & web designer with a background in nursing & studies in Political Science. She is married to a clergyperson & they live in Canada‘s Rockies. She’s lived with chronic fatigue syndrome. for many years.
Reprinted from HopeKeepers Magazine.