Hope: reflection

It's Wednesday of the first week of advent; so perhaps it's time to see how we're doing.  Is your to do list a mile long?  Have you met yourself coming and or going?  Do you feel like the rope in the "tug of war" game? One of Satan's tricks this time of year is to get us too busy to focus clearly on a "baby in a manger".  Instead he wants us to get busy doing so much that we can't possibly enjoy any of it, and we end up stressed and irritated. Remember that of all the people alive at the time of the birth of Christ only the shepherds got the message.  Why do you suppose that was?  Yes,  I believe it was to show that God Loves everyone, even the ones that society would look down on; but also because they were in fields watching sheep. I mean, think about it, they had nothing to do but stargaze.  They were able to hear God because they were quiet.

So I want to give some practical ways to slow down.  I'm sure you've heard this before so consider it a reminder.

  • First, find some quiet time.  Some time to be still and hear what God is saying. Sometimes particularly at this time of year we get so busy that if God sent angels to give us a message; We would miss it just as much as they did the first Christmas.

  • Second,  be realistic about what you can do. There's a big difference between things that are essential and that pointless.  Especially at Christmas it is easy to over commit; to try to fit one more thing  into our plan.  It's easy to forget what we are capable of and what we are not capable of.   Jesus when he was alive only did what one person could do.  Set limits when it's necessary.

  • Third keep your expectations reasonable.  Sometimes we set our expectations so high that we end up trying to create a perfect Christmas that we miss creating memories.  We have such high anticipation and hope for an event (Christmas) that we fail to see the hope that came to the world because of Christmas.  Christmas has a way of being what we expect it to be; if we expect to have a great Christmas, we will; if we don't, we won't.  Remember a perfect Christmas can not exist in a fallen world

  • Plan ahead.  Shop during the year and beat the Christmas rush.  Do cards a little early, if you want or don't do them at all if you have no time.  Feel free to buy a dessert from the store if you are attending a party and have no time to make something; I promise no one will care or mind.

  • Finally, allow for some interruptions.  Those shepherds allowed God to interrupt their "keeping the sheep".   God sent them to Bethlehem, and they left their sheep went to find a baby. If we don't allow for interruptions in our schedule; when they happen we will end up grumpy and irritated rather than enjoying the diversion. The Shepherds saw the interruption as a chance to worship the King of Kings rather than grumble about having to leave the sheep and go to Bethlehem.

Let keep our focus this Christmas and remember that Jesus offered a fallen world hope.  Let's remember and offer others the gift of hope this Christmas.  We can't give hope if we don't have the hope our self, or if we're too busy.  If we are too busy, we will never know who need the hope we can offer.

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