"Mom, we forgot to do the Advent calendar."
You'd think her accusation wouldn't catch me off guard any more. I mean, we forget a lot of things. Practically every day.
And yet, those two words "we forgot" prickled something inside me.
Of course I answered rationally, "No, Honey. We didn't forget. We didn't have time yesterday, remember? We had church all night." With that the matter was settled. Right. We didn't have time. It's not that we forgot. It's just that in the 30 minutes we had between school and church we chose to eat snacks and watch a show on PBS.
Why does the word "forget" sting me so? This morning's observation didn't wound me nearly as much as usual. Such as when I perform my weekly grocery shopping and the kids keenly observe that, "Mom, you forgot the bananas."
You forgot the quarters for Popcorn Friday.
You forgot to wash my shirt.
You forgot to pack my shoes.
You forgot to return the library books.
You forgot to pick up stamps.
You forgot to make the appointment.
You forgot... you forgot... you forgot.
A simple remark becomes a glaring accusation.
And we can debate whether I should make more detailed lists, become more organized, or make my kids responsible for all the minutia in their own lives, but the truth is that when I take ownership of a task and fail to meet that responsibility, then I become immediately and poignantly aware of my own shortcomings.
What better time to face my own failing humanity than a season when we focus so pointedly on God's invading divinity?
Because as I continue to spew my tired, irrational rants that "Of COURSE I forgot! I'm busy remembering things for everyone around me," I look at the unsatisfying parts of my life and make my own accusation. God, you forgot. I simultaneously celebrate God and criticize Him.
Blinding tinsel and blaring Christmas ballads are only the tip of the marketing iceberg that breeds discontent in December.Constantly there is the pedaling of the lie that what you have is not enough. That who you are is not enough. And when enough is not enough, you admit that God is not enough. With every complaint we point the finger at God and remind Him, "God, you forgot."
Which is why we need to celebrate the season all the more. Sing God's greatness all the louder.
Because at the heart of the Christmas
message is this, "God has not forgotten you."
The evidence is there, wrapped in skin. For those who waited long for a Savior, who looked to God, just as we have, and asked Him desperately, "God, have you forgotten me, "a baby's cry proclaims, resounding, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son from her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you." (Isaiah 49:15)
I will tell you a phrase that I hear far less often, yet when I hear it my heart aches with the pain of full love: Mom, you remembered...
That is gratitude at its simplest. Acknowledging that the caregiver remembered, was faithful.
Those who celebrate Christmas fully are the one who realize gratitude is the manger that cradles the God who remembers. Gratitude is the song of the angels, the urgency of the shepherds, the gifts of the wise men.
Gratitude utters to the broken, "Look at God. See how He remembers us."
Gratitude sees into the family discord and reminds us that Christ was born into discord, and in the darkness of it all God did not forget us, but sent His one and only Light because He loves us.
Gratitude heeds the voice that invites, "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!" because the Holy One of Israel has not forgotten His covenant with us.
Gratitude is the cure of spiritual amnesia along with all its discontented side effects. It is the song, simple and constant, that sings, "God, you remembered".
Maybe you need to hear the song, remember deeply that God has not forgotten you. Maybe the grinches, bah-humbugs, and hopeless cases around you need to hear it. Chances are it needs to be heard by all of the above.
So as we await our coming King, our God who remembers, let's sing the song together in the hearing of our neighbors. We celebrate a God who has not forgotten us. A God who remembers us always. The only God who can fully satisfy. And for that we are eternally grateful.