THIS SERIES: DREAMING OF THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS?
Earlier in the year, we looked at the importance of celebrating the present moment, and the necessity of gratitude. In these last weeks before Christmas, it is a good time to dust off some of those thoughts and put them into practice.
It’s so easy to get so focused on ticking things off our 'to-do list' that we don’t actually take time to enjoy any of it. What if we set ourselves to look for and celebrate moments of joy: a beautiful shop window display perhaps, or the town’s Christmas lights; a favourite carol or the taste of a first mince pie; or maybe a crisp frosty morning, a card from an old friend or the anticipation of a family gathering…
We don’t have to own everything that attracts our attention to do this; we can enjoy the amazing variety of things for sale, without feeling the need to buy them, admire our neighbours’ light display without the notion we have to compete, and delight in inspiring magazine projects without the urge to make everything in sight. In a sense, it all belongs to us—little gifts of grace to enhance our lives.
Let’s cultivate a bit of child-likeness, and look at things with eyes of wonder and delight. After all, that’s the heart-attitude which attracts the Kingdom of God [Mark 10:14].
...put (your) hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
[1 Timothy 6:17]
Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
And if we take time to notice those things which make our hearts leap, it is a small step to verbalise our delight in thanksgiving.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in Him,
strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.
Even if the ‘stuff’ of Christmas leaves you cold, there are plenty of alternatives out there to delight your heart; our lives are filled with grace-gifts, if we only take time to notice. Whatever our interests, let’s make the next couple of weeks resound with the sound of our thanksgiving; after all, God is good to us—all the time.
IRRITATION OR OPPORTUNITY?
For many of us, certain elements of our modern commercialised Christmas are not merely uninspiring but a positive source of irritation. Perhaps it is the constant repetition of annoying adverts and cheesy songs that bugs you, or maybe it’s the cheap santas and over-sized elves in the high street, the same old films on the tv (Casablanca, anyone!) or the latest over-packaged must-haves… or something else entirely, (bearing in mind that one person’s dislikes will be another’s delight)? The aggravation may be momentary and inconsequential, but when repeated often enough can dominate the whole perception of the festival for some, while at least puncturing the sense of wellbeing for others.
Perhaps we can turn these irritants into something more positive?
What if we used them as a ‘worship alert’? Some Christians have the practice of setting personal timers to go off at intervals to remind them to offer up worship. What if we decided to take one seasonal annoyance (to start with) and every time it cropped up, used it as a reminder to turn our hearts towards Emmanuel and worship Him? After a while, instead of provoking a surge of irritation, our stimulus will cause our hearts to leap in anticipation—an encounter with the Lord is at hand! Why not try it and see?
Now bring on those plastic reindeer…
THIS WEEK’S GRACE RHYTHM
NEXT WEEK: THE POWER OF BLESSING
How to release the Lord’s goodness and favour over our community during this season.
GET IN TOUCH!
[Photo credits: Annie Spratt (bauble); Mel Poole (ho, ho, ho); Kelly Sikkema (writing paper) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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