Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 20: Frantic!

Five days until Christmas and the rush really begins.  For us, my kids have two more days of school, so it's the last minute things to buy and make for their school parties.  Then I have to have all Santa's presents wrapped by the time the kids get home from school tomorrow.  I have to make mad dashes to the grocery store as communication trickles in little by little about what is expected of our family during Christmas get-togethers.  I need to put the final touches on the Christmas presents I'm making.  I check the front porch ten times a day for the "guaranteed by December 24th" packages I ordered (some of them over two weeks ago!).  And in the middle of this I still need to keep the house clean, feed my family, and take a shower at least every other

I know other people are rushing around shopping at the last minute.  Some are packing and traveling, and some are preparing for out of town guests.  Some people need to go out and still buy a nice outfit for the Christmas party or the Christmas service at church.  There are even those of you, who I think are crazy, who are addressing a stack of 200 envelopes right now, trying to rush to get your Christmas cards out (I told myself that as long as I make an effort to communicate with others the other eleven months of the year, that I would feel okay not sending out Christmas cards, but I know those of you that do put a lot of time into it!).

Amid this frantic rush, it seems that instead of this season being about celebrating Christ's birth, it seems like a spiritual addendum that we need to fit in somewhere between the Santa visit at the mall and making holiday cookies.  What is most perplexing about this, though, is the one thing that promises to not stress us out, the one thing that promises rest and fulfillment, is the thing many of use want to shove further and further down on the priority list.

I'm not one of those Christians that turns into a Jesus-nazi at Christmas.  By that I mean:

-We have an angel on the top of our tree, not a crown of thorns (because nothing says "Peace on Earth, good will to men" like a bloody crown of thorns).

-I think actually think it's kind of funny that if you rearrange the word "Santa" that it spells "Satan", but instead of that coincidence causing me to do away with Santa (and it is a coincidence, because that only happens in English, and I doubt the English speaking Santa is more satanic than any other Santa), it makes me want to rearrange the letters of other words to see if they spell anything interesting.

-I tell people "Merry Christmas", but I don't boycott stores that choose to say "Happy Holidays" (because remember, Jesus wasn't born in December, so we really don't have any more right demanding that this be "our time" than anyone else, except maybe the pagans, since the Winter Solstice is the Winter Solstice and it doesn't make sense to celebrate that in May!).

-My kids sing Frosty the Snowman, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town right along with Away in a Manger, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Silent Night (because if you actually look at the words of the traditional Christmas hymns, they are just as screwy as the topics of the secular songs, maybe moreso, because they purport to represent Jesus).

But even though I don't become a Jesus-nazi, I do see the need to slow down and take in what this season is all about and why we do all the things we do.  When I do that, I realize that Jesus is the most important and all the other trappings of the season seem so much less important.  While I like to have Christmas cookies, it isn't essential to celebrating Christmas, because Jesus didn't come into the world for those little powder sugared wedding cake cookies or for the almond flavored sandwich cookies with the raspberry jam in them. While I like to see people at Christmas, it isn't essential to the celebration of Christ's birth (I learned that the year both my kids had pink eye on Christmas Eve!).  When you keep your eyes on what is essential and simply enjoy everything else (or choose not to do it), you take the "frantic" out of the season.

Activity:  Look up the following verses in the Bible:  Psalm 46:10, Matthew 11:28, Joshua 1:9, and Ephesians 5:18-20.  How can you incorporate the message of these verses into the last few days before Christmas?

Prayer:  Simply be still and know that He is God.  Find some quiet time and simply sit in God's presence.  If you pray anything at all, praise God for all the attributes that make Him God.

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