December means the end of the fall semester for students. The twelfth month means the end of the fiscal year for many companies. It means the last chance to make a tax-deductible contribution and get credit for it this year. It also means the season of Christmas is here.
Why it is so hard to “take it slow” through the next few weeks? How can you set a better pace?
I am aware of drive through restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and even funeral homes (it sounds creepy, doesn’t it?). But I was not aware of the popularity of drive-through “live nativities.” I guess the idea is certainly convenient once you stop and think about it. Consider the access for those who are disabled or elderly. Visitors who have time can get out of their cars and stroll among the sheep and cattle (a lot safer than Jurassic Park). But if you are pinched for time, drive through and be uplifted by the sights, sounds, and message, and get a hot cocoa for the road.
But let me warn you and your friends. You can get a Christmas “bump” in one night if you wish, but that is not how it was designed. I know it is tempting in our “5 hour energy boost” culture to default to a drive-thru mentality about Christmas. It is so familiar after all. We enjoy the lights, music, smells, and traditions. We love to sing the songs that are reserved for this once-a-year celebration. But sadly, most of the month of December is crammed, busy, and rushed so that it’s easy to forget about the meaning of this “holiday,” or “holy-day.”
Read Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, and Matthew 1:23.
At this time of year, we are remembering the birth of a baby who would transform everything. Isaiah had prophesied that the Savior would be born (Isaiah 9:6-7). The narrative is so easy to listen to and enjoyable that even Linus could tell his friends about it on The Charlie Brown Christmas. But it was just the start of an incredible journey because the rest of Jesus’ story includes pain, sacrifice, betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, death, burial, and victory.
Instead of speeding through this month, start now to plan to take time to reflect on the best present you have ever received (sorry mom and dad) – the gift of eternal salvation – and remember the sacrifice that was necessary to purchase and provide that gift for you and anyone else who believes in the Son (1 John 5:11-12).
YouVersion has released advent reading programs that can help you read The Story in a fresh manner. Think about the person of Immanuel: His life, ministry, words, death on a Roman cross, resurrection, and ascension. Read one of my favorite books by John Ortberg: Who is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. Watch and listen to John’s talk about it on YouTube and discuss it with your friends and family. Listen to Handel’s Messiah.
Slow down. Resist the temptation to overspend, party and eat too much. Avoid a drive-through Christmas. Take time in meaningful ways to remember what happened on that night so long ago. Imagine being out in the fields when the shepherds heard the angels declare, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
Live communally. Like the wise men that visited Mary, Joseph and the new born King, what will you and your friends give the Lord this Christmas to celebrate His birthday?
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz