It’s that season again. When countless sermons and blog posts deliver the same message: we’re doing Christmas all wrong. We’re focusing on the trappings and the noise instead of the true meaning of Christmas. Through all the gift giving and party planning, we’re forgetting whose birthday it really is. The stress of planning and decorating is distracting us from what’s really important.
My reaction to these statements… THEY ARE NOT HELPFUL AT ALL!
This commentary (for you can’t even really call it advice) is not rooted in a woman’s reality. We can’t abandon these things, because it’s our job. There’s a quote you’ve probably heard by British poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy: “We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.” (You may remember Willy Wonka saying this line in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.) Well, as women, we are the Christmas makers and we are the creators of Christmas dreams. Our job is making memories…and it’s an incredibly valuable one.
And so telling us that the things we’re rushing around doing is making us forget the true meaning of Christmas is only going to make us feel guilty and conflicted. It creates that fractured self I’ve written about in the past. There’s the “busy self” who does all the shopping, baking, gift wrapping etc. and the “quiet self” or some might call the “holy self” who is focused on quiet prayer, waiting in the stillness…all those great things we’re encouraged to do during Advent but never seem to find the time for. And so we struggle with this feeling that when we are dwelling in the “busy self” we’re not quite holy. We’re not measuring up to the ideal of the season.
I don’t believe God wants us to experience Advent in this fractured way. And I don’t believe it’s necessary. It is entirely possible to wait for Jesus amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We’re not losing the true meaning of Christmas amidst the shopping, planning, cooking, and visiting…in fact, we’re living it.
The way we do this is by bringing Jesus along with us, and keeping Him the focus of all that we do during this busy, hectic, noisy, festive, special, loving season.
Jesus can be a part of our festivities and our planning every step of the way. You can continue to see Christ in all that you do this season. Every twinkly light hanging from every tree in every store of the mall represents Jesus. Because Jesus is Light. The light in the darkness that will lead our way to the Promised Land. That is something to be celebrated, whether it’s done through a beautifully carved nativity set in a stately church or through a handful of tinsel on a gaudy tree.
Remember, we do what we do out of love… and Jesus IS love. So if you’re excited to take Jesus along with you this season, here are some practical examples of what you can do:
- When you’re at a party, take a moment to look around, and imagine Jesus there. What would he be doing? Who would he be talking to? What might he be saying? Remind yourself that Jesus Christ dwells within each and every person at that party… even those people you find particularly challenging.
- When you’re at the shopping mall standing in a long line, take a moment to say a loving prayer for each person in line ahead of you. Ask Jesus to bless them, to grant them a peace-filled holiday season, and to touch their lives in some small way this Advent season.
- When you’re baking cookies or wrapping gifts, say a prayer for the recipient of the gift. Ask Jesus to bless the gift and the person who will receive it.
I’m not suggesting you abandon all attempts for quiet reflection during Advent. It’s incredibly enriching so catch those moments when you can! But I also encourage you to look for any opportunity to take Jesus along with you as you get ready for Christmas this year.
WANT TO HEAR MORE? This piece is an excerpt from my Advent retreat: “Taking Jesus to the Mall.” Click here for more information on how to bring this program to your church or organization.