Friday, December 10, 2010

A Quiet Christmas

Our time is growing shorter. Each hour, an hour gone. Each day, one we can never replace. Each year, a step closer to eternity. At this blessed time of year, the Advent of hope, the Advent of our Messiah, it has struck me how busy we have become. From the first to the thirty-first December is the busiest and most rushed month of the year. As soon as the roasting pans and pie plates have been washed after Thanksgiving we prepare to fill our days with mall outings, Christmas parties, gift exchanges, cookie baking, gift wrapping, and decorating.

Our whole year is busier and passes at a far faster pace than it ever has before, and then we throw in December to top it all off. As Christians we attempt to slow things down a bit by remembering the true 'reason for the season.' By celebrating the Advent of Jesus Christ we we try to create a calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Yet it only lasts for a few moments, sporadically around the Advent wreath each evening, singing Christmas carols in church during the month of December, or reading the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke on Christmas morning. These occasional and brief moments of calm do not nearly make up for an entire month of unparalleled activity, and often an entire year of non-stop busyness.

How might our culture react if we made a conscious and intentional decision to spend the entire month of December living as the quiet Mary at Jesus' feet instead of Martha bustling around the house? What would happen if we made a point to spend increased time with our families in December instead of attending countless Christmas parties for purely social reasons? What if we took a break from our traditional academic courses during December and instead studied the culture and circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth? What if we dedicated one, or even two days a week to serving those less fortunate in our community? Putting together a Christmas meal for a struggling family. Buying a Christmas tree and ornaments for a family that might not have one otherwise. Taking a day to decorate an old folk's home for the Christmas season. Leading an Advent Bible study for your friends or Sunday School class. Perhaps even beginning a tradition of receiving only one gift from your parents each year. What would they think?

Oh, I am sure they would turn up their noses in disgust. They would chide us (or our parents) for depriving our children of 'the magic of the season.' We might even be labeled as 'holier than thou' by our fellow believers, but slowly they might come to realize that frantic shopping, stress, and frustration fall far short of constituting the 'magic' they had hoped to create. The true magic of Christmas comes when we refocus on the gift of God's Son, born of a virgin in the lowliest and filthiest of places. When we understand that the peace His redeeming love and saving grace brings is the only magic worth experiencing on any day of the year.

Of course, it doesn't matter what others may think of a decision we make, because we make it only for the glory of God. Nevertheless, if enough Christians lived as Mary's and Martha's during this time of the year we might see an increase in the joy and peace of Christmas, and those who have been trying for years to create an artificial magic might discover true Christmas magic at the foot of a manger, and at the foot of the cross.

Are you willing to give up your Martha busyness to sit at the feet of the Messiah in the fashion of Mary? Are you willing to even give up a few long-held traditions that do not necessarily point to Him, and to say no to December activities that will hinder you from sitting at the feet of Jesus? I want to remember Christmas as a peaceful and joyful time. I want to live my life, and especially my Decembers as a Mary who desires more of her Saviour, and not as a Martha who desires more attention for herself. May the quiet of Christmas fill your heart and home this month as you learn to sit at the feet of Jesus, learning more of the wonder of the God-man whom we call Saviour, Father, Messiah, Christ.

Come thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

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