Approaching Christmas as a Christian
For many, Christmas can be a very difficult time- memories of those we've lost are raw, family tensions are brought to the surface, and isolation and loneliness feel especially hard. It can also be a very busy and stressful time: plans to make, gifts to buy, food to prepare, events to attend. In the midst of the difficulties and the busyness, can I encourage Christians to have a distinctive approach to Christmas, with three 'Ps'?
In Colossians 3:1 we have been encouraged to 'set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father'. This is to be our mindset as Christians all of the time, so let's make sure that Christmas is no exception! In the midst of it all, let's cultivate a fresh appreciation of Jesus, and the very good news of his birth for us that first Christmas.
With the focus so often on presents at Christmas, I want to encourage us to focus instead on presence. One of the dangers of the busyness of Christmas is that we are not fully present for the people around us. We're so distracted that we stop really noticing others at all. But the greatest gift you can give your friends, your children, your neighbours, isn't the 'perfect Christmas' but rather, your full attention and genuine presence. To stop, to listen well, to care. As Romans 12:10 puts it, to be 'devoted to one another'. At Christmas, we remember how God came to be fully present with us in Christ. Let's mirror that by being fully present for each other.
In Colossians 1:28, Paul declares of Jesus: 'we proclaim him!'. What a wonderful opportunity Christmas provides each of us to do that. Who could you invite along to our magical 'Follow the Star?' Who could you invite to join you at one of our Carol Services? Many of our friends will be pleased to be invited- so don't be shy! And let's also pray for opportunities to speak informally of our own faith in Christ this Christmas time. Jesus wasn't born in a church! He was born in the middle and chaos of family life. So let's not restrict Jesus to church either- let's speak of him in the midst of our own lives too.
Whether you expect the season to be hard or chaotic, my prayer is that it will be full of Christ, and therefore full of the joy and peace he brings.
With much love,