Gaining a proper perspective on celebratory occasions is not easy in the face of seductive commercial campaigns. We are bombarded with wonderful images of family, community, romance, and fulfilment - all gift-wrapped with a particular purchase or activity; or magical environments where anything can happen; sentimental films with a sprinkling of snow; or comedy capers alive with seasonal laughter..... Inspirational or aspirational, the effect is overwhelming.
TAKE A REALITY CHECK
The reality is often rather different. For many, Christmas means stress; and because of the power of the romantic ideal, that stress is frequently compounded by feelings of guilt and failure. Hard-pressed parents worry about funding the latest must-have; families anxiously anticipate relationship challenges, and just about everyone frets about the to-do-list. And then of course, there’s all that shopping……. It’s hardly the season of peace on earth! And yet as Christians we want to do it right. How can we manage our dreams, keep focused on the Lord, and pressure at bay?
Before we get right into the centre of the maelstrom, now is the time to diary in some Sabbath moments – a portion of time here and there when we can take some time quiet, and recalibrate (see previous blog series: Enjoying Sabbath Rest). These will become our anchors to peace and rest in the weeks to come.
Emmanuel means ‘God with us’, and He is the whole point of the season. The Christmas story reminds us that we worship a God who has chosen to come down to us to meet us where we are. Therefore our Christmas Sabbaths must first of all be about inviting the Lord to fill the time with His presence.
Then we need to focus on the big question: What is it all for?
Taking time with the Lord to nail down two or three core intentions for the season, then using these to provide a framework for our activity, is really important in reducing stress levels.
The truth is we can’t do it all, but what we can do, we can make count!
More on this next time……
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