A Mustard-Seed Christmas
by Charlene Elizabeth Fairchild
I discovered s small devotional story years ago, this personal recounting of one woman’s discovery of how to celebrate the joy of the Christmas holiday when personal conditions proved challenging.
Throughout the years I linked to the story, and finally tried embedding it in its simplicity. As things on the internet go it keeps moving and shifting, while many have copies of it on their sites because of the profound meaning they have found from it.
I post it here, so that you may benefit, as I have, from the simple message of faith it holds for celebrating Advent.
Last year our first Christmas decoration was a mustard seed. A lowly mustard seed. Taped on a sheet of white paper to the center of our mantelpiece. It was a sign and a symbol of the fragile and tiny hope I had of celebrating Christmas. The hope was fragile and it was tiny because I did not â€œfeelâ€ like Christmas last year. How could I sing the Lordâ€™s song in the strange land of Grief?
It was the first Sunday in Advent and my husband and I were having our usual leisurely coffee brunch after all the duties of the morning and the noon hour. Two church services and the important weekly phone calls to my father and other family members were behind us for another week. My husband, 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 and this was the first Christmas to be marked without her. I did not â€œfeelâ€ 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 couldnâ€™t figure out how I was going to get through this time. Everybody busy and happy and having parties and family gatherings. I shrank inside. The thought of smiling and pretending joy was beyond pain for me. What was I going to do?
I remembered the reading from Romans that morning, â€œThe night is far gone, the day is nearâ€¦let us put on the armor of lightâ€¦put on the Lord Jesus Christ.â€ The season celebrating His birth and looking for His coming again was upon me and I was being called to participate. But it was beyond me to rejoice. As I said these things to my husband, 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 and make of it something worthy. God could take that tiny seed of faith and grow it into a kingdom of hope.
I felt as if I had been touched. I got up and went to the kitchen and rifled through my spices. Yes! There it was. My bottle of mustard seeds. I got one out and grabbed a piece of paper from the pad by our phone and taped that mustard seed to the center. I returned to the dining room, waving the paper triumphantly. â€œIâ€™ve got it! Iâ€™ve got it! I CAN celebrate this year.â€ My husband said, â€œHere, letâ€™s put it up on the mantel. Itâ€™ll be our first Christmas decoration.â€ Up it went. Every time I looked at it, I was reminded of the hope it symbolized and the faith it embodied. I couldnâ€™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 and 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 and despair and faith in the promises of God. My prayer is that, in the midst of difficult times, you will find hope; that a mustard-seed Christmas may be yours.
Charlene Elizabeth Fairchild