With last minute errands filling our to do list, our attention is divided, our calendars full. The final countdown to Christmas leaves us feeling frazzled and scattered as checkout lines get longer and people get grumpier. We fret over teacher gifts yet to be made or a creative, short-notice white elephant idea. Who really has time to grab another $10 Starbucks card anyway? The busyness of these final days are real and burnout is upon us.
Like us, Jesus’ earliest visitors were in a rush, just for a very different reason…
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they HURRIED OFF and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. [emphasis mine] Luke 2:8-18
Mary, on the other hand, had a posture of quiet reflection…
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
And the shepherds worshiped…
“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:20
Can we approach these hectic, overstuffed hours with more joy, more community, more purpose? Can we choose to spend these final days different than the default mode of this world? Can we be more like the shepherds, in a hurry to worship before the Savior and eager to spread the good news of his coming? Can we sit and ponder like Mary, treasuring the moments, the awe, the miracle, in the quiet recesses of our heart? With intention, we sure can!
As Christmas quickly approaches, let’s ask ourselves 4 key questions:
*WHAT errands or responsibilities are ESSENTIAL [key word] to getting done? Anything not on that list, gets checked off. Whew, I feel better already!
* WHO needs my attention most? Does an elderly friend need a visit, would my kids benefit from a family movie night, or does a friend need me to be extra present for them this week? Most likely the answer is “yes”, so let’s make it happen.
*WHY do I look expectantly towards Christmas morning, and what fills my heart with wonder? Set aside time to ponder, pray, and reflect on what the Savior’s birth has done for your life. Journal your thoughts, share it with a family member, or be brave and tell a stranger in the store. Sharing the gift of Jesus doesn’t come any easier than at this holy time of the year.
*HOW can I share the love, sacrifice, and joy with those around me? Maybe we should trade social media for couch-time conversation or exchange online games for in person ones. Perhaps we should pitch in during meal preparation or read aloud to the little ones. This time with extended family and friends is precious and hard to find, so lean in and make the most of every opportunity.
Instead of experiencing the busyness, stress, and last-minute scramble, let’s choose to live well this final week before Christmas. I promise, no one will miss the extra stocking stuffers, last dozen cookies, or even that $10 Starbuck’s card, but everyone will relish in the peace, pause, worship, community, and joy that Christmas is designed to bring.
“Oh come let us adore Him, oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”