CHRISTMAS IS COMING....
Then there’s the media onslaught: 101 ways to have a perfect Christmas. And those advertisement images of perfection are beguiling: happy families feasting & playing games next to a roaring fire; beautifully dressed rooms, creating a magical environment where anything can happen; sentimental films evoking joy-filled lives..... Inspirational or aspirational, the effect is overwhelming.
TIME TO TAKE A REALITY CHECK
To avoid joining the stress-filled masses, it's good to take time now to take stock of our expectations, & if necessary, take steps to modify them:
- Simplify: don’t try to do everything suggested by the media – it’s impossible. In this case, less really is more. Christmas is about Emmanuel, God with us. Let’s make this our number one focus: to practice His presence, & minister His presence to others. This is really what makes Christmas special.
- Accept imperfections: the quality of our family life & other relationships is not measured by a perfect Christmas. Things go wrong. Stuff happens. Let’s determine beforehand how we’ll respond:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
- Pray: let's pray our way through the details of our Christmas preparations, from presents to parking places, from preparing for guests to cooking the turkey. Let's be co-workers with Him, asking for His wisdom and blessing on it all.
- Give the gift of freedom: our vision of Christmas often demands that other people, especially our families, respond in a certain way. This can be the source of immense frustration & disappointment. Some expectations are reasonable: for example, help with food preparation or transportation, others are to do with preference, like attendance at a carol service, or joining in a particular activity. Let's sort out our expectations into 'necessary' and 'nice'.Then let’s communicate, in good time, the expectations on the ‘necessary’ list. We can also discuss our hopes in the ‘nice’ column, but we need to lay these down in terms of demands. If we concentrate on doing what we do as a personal act of worship, without demanding that others follow suit, it sets everyone free.
- Hold traditions lightly: families have many wonderful Christmas customs, but it is important we don't let those conventions become bondage. The tell-tale signs are when the breaking of a tradition causes disproportional stress, and threatens to 'spoil' the festival. As seen above, we need to decide on our key focus, and let that define everything we do. Jesus warned about putting traditions first [Mark 7:9], and Paul warned about judging ourselves & others regarding the keeping of festivals [Colossians 2:16]. It's good to keep in mind.
Then let's enjoy the season!
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