Real Life Leading 56:
Christmas Crazy vs. Christmas holiday?
Christmas season is in full swing this week, and that means many different things to different people. For some people it means decorating, presents, trees, candles, food, candy, travel, and family. For others it means sadness, loss, reminders of pain, isolation, or at least stress (also often related to family). This Christmas season, I want to give a couple of quick encouraging reminders: to slow down, and to rejoice.
The word holiday comes from the term ‘holy day,’ or a day set aside for a special or specific purpose. This Christmas season, I would encourage you to set aside time to both slow down and to reflect and rejoice: to see the beauty, to enjoy the company, to be amazed at the possibilities the future holds. In the midst of the crazy, let’s remember to slow down and set time aside to be reminded of Joy (one of C.S. Lewis’ favorite terms).
My world is complicated: being divorced and remarried (with kids involved) means that our schedule is hectic already, and it becomes even moreso when extended family comes to visit from out of town. As a school teacher it also means that this is exam time, and since one of my kids is in high school, it’s exam time for her as well. This is in addition to all of the usual Christmas season stresses mentioned above.
Because of all these things, I am glad to be able to remind myself and you to slow down, and also to rejoice. We should slow down because it’s the only way to enjoy what should be an amazing and encouraging season of the year. I’m not a huge fan of most modern Christmas songs, but I do appreciate that so many of them are positive, reminding us to be amazed and cheered by decorations, by kind greetings from strangers, and by the joys of the season. But if we’re going too fast, staying too busy, or trying to do too much, we miss it.
Even more importantly, I would remind you to rejoice this Christmas season. As a history person, I understand that Jesus’ actual birth was nearer to spring than to when we celebrate Christmas; however, that doesn’t make Christmas less special, any more than it would to celebrate a friend’s or child’s birthday on a different day of the year. This season is one that reminds me of the greatest gift I could ever receive: hope.
Jesus’ coming to earth—His life, death, and resurrection—all represent the greatest eucatastrophe (to borrow a word from J.R.R. Tolkien, meaning ‘good catastrophe’) in the history of the world. And that is cause to rejoice. This world is broken and fallen, and there are sorrows and pains that shouldn’t exist; yet Jesus reminds us that it isn’t meant to be this way, and that it won’t always be this way. His coming points us to a beautiful, wonderful future, full of blessings and joy that we cannot currently imagine. And every good blessing we have now is simply a signpost pointing us to that future.
So, when we get to snuggle with our kids (as I was blessed to do on Friday) or our pups (as many of us love to do); or when we are able to rescue kittens (as my wife tends to do); or when we see beautiful lights and decorations; when we are able to spend time with our families and loved ones; when we experience the joy of food and fellowship; when we slow down enough to appreciate these things, let us be reminded that these things are but a taste of what is to come.
Action Step: This week, take a few moments each day to consciously slow down to enjoy and appreciate the many blessings we have received, and be reminded of the joy that is still to come.