We’re off! The race to Christmas has begun.
The next twenty-six days will include shopping, wrapping, sending, writing (the Christmas cards), decorating, cleaning, baking, attending, final rehearsing and performing. Did I leave out anything?
No doubt some of you are far down the track. Your house is already decorated, the cards are nearly finished, the cookies are baked and tucked in the freezer. You started preparations weeks ago.
I am not among you—never have been. What would Christmas be without a little hustle and bustle to get the adrenalin flowing? Except I almost always become overwhelmed, which leads to frazzled nerves.
This year I want to maintain (or recapture as needed) an Advent perspective of tranquil expectation and worshipful celebration—even when the schedule and the to-do list get a little crazy.
How? The following three ways might be a good place to begin:
Gratitude will prepare the way—the way to salvation from discontent and agitation, the way to the presence of God.
(“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me
and prepares the way
so that I may show him
the salvation of God.”
Gratitude renews my mind and spirit as I remember: “The things [I] take for granted, someone else is praying for”–things like:
- Colorful Christmas cards in the mailbox
- An ample supply of sugar, flour, and butter for cookies
- A Christmas tree filled with treasured, memory-laden ornaments
- Loving family gathered to revel in each other’s company and hear the story of Jesus’ birth once again
- Presents aplenty under that tree, to express our love
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward (1921-1994).
What better time than Advent to be more thankful, to experience more joy, to take note of our many blessings in the ordinary? M-m-m. ‘Think I’ll reflect on that question in my journal during these days leading up to Christmas.
If someone asked me, “Is there a scripture about the impact of prayer on a person’s emotional state?” I’d steer them to Philippians 4:6-7.
“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
Which transcends all understanding,
Will guard your hearts and your minds
In Christ Jesus.”
How easy it is to steer others in the right direction, but not take that route myself.
So these reminders are for me:
- Be anxious about nothing – including the long task-list that requires completion by Christmas.
- Pray with a grateful heart about everything that needs to be done – including what to say on the Christmas cards, what gifts to give, what is needful to accomplish and what is just my OCD in over-drive.
- Pray for godly perspective. The result will be as he has promised: peace that transcends understanding.
To keep mindful, I’ve put Philippians 4:6-7 on the bathroom mirror.
Yesterday, the first Sunday of Advent, we focused on the word, wait –an action often accompanied by impatience.
But in the ancient language of the Bible, Hebrew, the word wait is the same as the word for hope. How appropriate—hopeful waiting—waiting that includes positive expectation, confident assurance, and absolute conviction, because our God is the One and only God of hope.
And because of him we have confident assurance of:
- Strength (Psalm 31:24)
- Blessing (Jeremiah 17:7)
- Joy and peace (Romans 15:13)
- Eternal life (Titus 1:2)
What a glorious list. And that’s just the beginning.
If I focus on my God of hope and all his benefits, my attitude will be transformed (Romans 12:2). If I turn my face to the Son, the shadows will fall behind me.*
Too often in the past, my attitude has turned the season of Advent into an adversary to be beaten.
This year I want Advent to be an adventure of gratitude, prayer, and hope.
*Based on a Maori proverb