Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas Eve Devotional

Christmas Eve Ritual

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.  Isaiah 44:23

Remember what you sang on Christmas Eve when you were a child?
Remember what it felt like to know that baby Jesus was going to be born on this very night?
Growing up in Morelia México, my favorite advent song from catholic school went like this:

“Mi alma se llena de gozo, 
porque el señor pronto vendrá, 
preparare un persebre en mi corazón despojandome de toda maldad, 
señor yo quiero que nazcas 
en mi en silencio estaré esperandote, 
como viento que espera su descanso, 
como fuego que arede sin fin...”
"My soul is filled with joy 
because the Lord will soon come,
I will prepare a manger in my heart 
stripping it of all evil, 
Lord, I want you to be born in me 
in silence, I will be waiting for you,
like the wind that awaits its rest
as a fire that burns endlessly”

Beech tree roots in fog
Thirty Christmas Eves have passed since I first learned it. Aiming for sanctity was a joyous game worth pursuing, knowing through confession we were all forgiven from our small setbacks. However, preparing this manger became a harder task with age. Especially through the years of my youth where I belonged to a catholic group called Regnum Christi. We performed meticulous conscience exams as part of our daily night prayers and meditation. I devoted most of one year to live with their “nuns” while seriously considering the vocation. It was then where the “stripping it of all evil” part became a daunting task filled with guilt and overthinking to a point where I started losing the capacity for deep sleep. Years passed by, and the toughest Christmas Eve of all came just a couple years after marriage. 2012 was the year I was singing Christmas Carols while pregnant for the very first time. Sobbing and wondering, why we don’t have advent reflections from Mary to console all soon to be mothers? The ones giving birth in the middle ages? The ones giving birth through persecution? During war times? I was disheartened while considering the disparity, climate, and justice challenges that children, including ours now, would have to cope in the 21st century and beyond. 

Anxiety was crawling, when love reached and healed deep from the madness nourishing me as a loving mycorrhizae, helping me realize we are all complex amalgams of positive and negative personality traits that emerge or not depending on the circumstances. Most importantly, helping me understand that we are saved by grace and confirming all our actions to be motivated by tremendous gratitude, rather than fear. 

So now, since we moved to DC and found a loving community in Old Meeting Presbyterian House, I still mumble this advent song in my heart. Yet, with a few modifications:
“Mi alma se llena de gozo, 
porque Dios pronto vendrá, 
Preparo un pesebre (de bondad) en mi corazón, hogar y comunidad (glocal)

Señor yo quiero que nazcas en mí
activamente estoy esperandote, 
como espiritu devoto a tu promesa, 
como mycorrhizae esparzo  tu eterno amor ...”
"My soul is filled with joy,
because God will soon come,
I prepare a manger (of goodness) in my heart, home and (glocal) community

Lord, I want you to be born in me
I'm actively waiting for you
as a spirit devoted to your promise,
as mycorrhizae spreading your endless love ... ”

Lord, please be born in my soul again
I'm actively waiting for you
as a living spirit devoted to your promise,
like mycorrhizae spreading your endless love 

Embracing chaos among our daily lives, proactively
We are trying to become useful puzzle pieces of your masterpiece
Gift us with the humility to accept the things we can’t change 
Awaken us to match our daily consumption and habits to our Christian values and also provide us the grit to transform our courage into action and advocate more efficiently, for the things we can. Today I ask you for enlightenment, to lead our way and discern the difference. 

Daniela Ochoa Gonzalez is a deacon at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, VA. She graduated from Cornell University with an MPA in Environmental Policy in 2009. She is a devoted mother of two little children and with her husband, Mitch aims to raise them as kind and spiritual glocals. She is the founder of “Regenerative Solutions” a translating and consulting company based in Washington DC that helps schools and houses of worship to align their values and transform their “waste” operations into zero waste and regenerative outputs that enhance their own local food system.