The biggest challenge (for me) in preparing for Christmas, the coming of Christ, is to not get swept away in the busyness. There is so much to do. And MOST of these things are fun, delightful and desirable. It's difficult to say no to a party or to something we've been invited to do. And there are parties and gatherings we want to host as well. I want to do it all!
On this idea of making space during advent Bobby Gross writes,
"Clearly it takes some work, some wrestling against the culture and our own proclivities. But making it happen isn't all on us. A grace is also at work in the season. Think again of a pregnant woman. Yes, she must pay attention to her body and take care of herself, but the life within her mysteriously takes shape and steadily grows of its own accord."
I think we all feel it, whether we are celebrating Christ's birth during this season or not: Christmas has gotten out of hand. The consumption, the commercialization, the high expectations of dinners and gatherings to be like Martha Stewart and her staff put it all together. (don't get me wrong, I'm a big MS fan so I'm preaching to myself here) Even Charlie Brown noted the commercialization of this holiday back in 1965. It's nothing new. Which makes it all the harder to make it different. Have you tried swimming uphill?
One of the most practical things that Mr. Gross suggests (again, in his book Living the Christian Year) to fight the pressures of the season is to practice restraint.
"Could we skip mailing Christmas and send greetings at Easter instead? Or simplify gift-giving by making charitable donations in a loved-ones name as an alternative? Could we decline a holiday party or two? Or cut back on baking goodies-and on eating them? There is no right answers, of course, and we'll likely take different steps in different years. The point is to practice restrain as a countercultural act that opens up space in our lives for God."
It's been helpful for me to keep these things in mind. To think twice before I say yes to something. To really, truly SIMPLIFY. As I've been attempting to put these things into practice, I think I'd be remiss if I didn't practice what's happening on the inside as well.
Let's take a look inside a young girl who carried God as a babe. One last excerpt from my currently-favorite read. I hope and pray that a part of the words I shared have touched you in some way, as they've touched me. Peace this Christmas to you.
"Mary chooses a posture of openness: I am wholly yours, I am fully open to your Word, I believe, let it be so with me. A humble stance, a courageous yes. She is our model. By her posture she makes room for God. She too will have nine months to ponder the workings of God and to wait his arrival. Advent invites us to do the same. Stay open."