As I was thinking about what to write for my newsletter article I did a little internet search and found this. I thought it was very appropriate to share at this time of year and is a good reminder to us all. Let us let this Advent season be one that points us to the real meaning for the season, the baby coming to us in the manger.
THE ADVENT SEASON, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, are perhaps the busiest, most hectic times of the year. In the breathless rush to make the most of the season, it is easy to forget that this sacred season is less about “holiday cheer” and more about a “holy child.” Advent is our opportunity to re-orient ourselves to receive the gift of Jesus. Here, in descending order, are the Top 10 things not to do during Advent.
- Do not forget your rituals:
Be careful not to treat Advent as just another busy time of the year. When we enter the Advent season, life is supposed to be different. Rituals in your personal and/or family life, can help you slow down and prayerfully ponder the gift of the Incarnation, the Son of God made flesh. Take time daily to relax, meditate or pray.
- Do not add to the frenzy:
If you are a parent, try not to add to the craziness of this season by being frantic yourself about last minute shopping, entertaining or decorating.
- Do not forget your Bibles:
What Bible passages point to Advent themes of preparation, promise, hope, expectancy, God’s enduring faithfulness, the time when God’s kingdom will be fulfilled? Advent is an excellent time of the year to familiarize yourself again with the Bible’s stories that lead up to the birth of Jesus.
- Do not try to be perfect for the Holidays:
Believe it or not, it’s not the end of the world if the Christmas tree has a bare spot on one side, if a bulb in one of the window candles is burnt out, or if you cannot find just the perfect gift for Uncle Bob. The holiday season can be stressful enough without allowing the drive for perfection to overwhelm you.
- Do not over do your schedule:
Learn to say “no” to some of the demands or events that may beg for your presence, however enjoyable or good they may be. Know your limits. As the saying goes, “Too much of a good thing is still too much.”
- Do not overdo gifts:
I recently heard of a study that indicates children on average receive 60% more for Christmas than they expect. Very good news for parents, right? But it also indicates that while parents need to be very clear with their children about expectations, ever more important is that they themselves need to be consistent with these expectations in their own gift giving. Remember, the focus is Jesus, God’s supreme gift to us, not our gifts to others.
- Do not go into additional debt:
Perhaps this is easier said than done. However, it is important to remember that the gift-giving of Christmas is supposed to spring from and be a sign of our gratitude to God for his gift-giving of Jesus. Rather than large grandiose, expensive gifts, consider giving smaller, more thoughtful items.
- Do not expect the culture to follow your lead:
A truly Christian approach to the month of December will inevitably be counter-cultural. If you embrace much of this list, have faith in what you are doing. Christmas is not about Martha Stewart-quality centerpiece, the gourmet Christmas feast, or getting the “hot toy of the year.” Our spiritual health depends on our resisting the cultural message that we need to get out and “shop till we drop.” Jesus came into the world to die for a different reason.
- Do not forget the less fortunate:
Remember that the real Christmas story is not set in a warm and cozy house, tastefully decorated and filled with more gifts than can fit under the tree, however wonderful that all may be. The real Christmas story is set amidst those who know enduring poverty and danger. What more loving witness could you offer than to seek out some holiday opportunity to identify with the poor and downtrodden as God does?
- Do not wait until Christmas Eve to come to Church!
Avoid the holiday rush and join us for worship in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Worship in the church is beautiful this time of year, with beautiful and powerful Advent hymns. Join us for Advent worship and allow it to bring you back to a sense of expectancy and alertness for the coming of God into our world, into your very life.