Wednesday, December 9, 2020

What Steals Our Peace At Christmas

 Wednesday, December 9, 2020    

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  Matthew 1:1-3

What Steals Our Peace At Christmas
No matter what you do to prepare, the Christmas season seems to always be chaotic. There are Christmas programs, Christmas parties, and Christmas shopping. That’s a normal year. This year, we have extra chaos. We have some of the regular chaos (some has been cancelled) and then we have the chaos of COVID. Christmas chaos is lighthearted. It may be hectic, but it is festive and fun. COVID chaos is heavy and disruptive, as it has been all year. So this year it may take a little more effort to keep the chaos down some. But if we keep our eyes focused on the Jesus, this will help keep everything in perspective.

Jesus is the reason for the season, but if He is the Lord of our lives, He is the reason for everything we do, and Lord over every area of our lives, including our finances. Overspending at Christmas is a temptation for all of us and it adds to the chaos of Christmas. We spend money we know we shouldn’t be spending and wonder how we will pay for all of it after Christmas. We try to focus on the season and our families, but we are distracted by worry. It literally steals our peace at Christmas time right out from under us.

In the scripture above, the three kings that visited Jesus after His birth remind us what we should be looking towards during this season. They show us how to increase our level of peace at Christmas just by looking for the right thing – and in the right place. We won’t find the peace only He can give by having the perfect tree, going to all the events, watching all the Christmas shows, baking goodies every day, or giving the most expensive gifts.  In fact, striving for all this will most certainly guarantee you will have little to no peace this Christmas.

Spending less will put a great deal of peace back in your Christmas, but beware, there will be those who won’t understand your plan. The draw of commercialism is strong, as is the desire to give your kids everything they want – or whatever all their friends are getting. Consider sharing some experiences with your kids this year instead of giving expensive gifts. The experience and the memories made will be far more valuable than any gift they get.

Advent Conspiracy has some suggestions on more relational gift ideas:

Spend Time Together

  • Host a dinner party. Have everyone bring a prayer request to share with the group. Spend time encouraging and praying for the people God has put in your life.
  • Create together. Do a puzzle, paint a picture, bake cookies, build a fort, write a song, make jewelry, garden, take photos.
  • Be present. Make it a habit to have one technology-free night. Turn off the distractions and spend quality time together.
  • Buy a devotional for you and a friend. Get together and talk about what you’re learning from God.
  • Do an activity. Go for a hike and look at creation. Go see a concert or play.
  • Read the Advent Conspiracy book with a friend and swap ideas for new Christmas traditions.

Celebrate Memories

  • Skip the traditional Christmas presents and instead plan a family vacation.
  • Try something new. Cooking classes, music lessons, rock climbing, painting.
  • Make a list of local restaurants, parks, and activities you want to explore. Grab a friend and see how many you can experience together in the next year.
  • Hire a photographer to take family photos for one of your friends.
  • Put together a cookbook of your favorite recipes that you can share with everyone in your family.
  • Make a scrapbook or photo album for your grandparents.
  • Over the next year, write 52 notes and share them with someone special next Christmas.
  • Put together a family night basket. Wrap up some popcorn, candy, gift cards, and board games.

Share Your Talents

  • Celebrate the talents that God has given you and share those with others. Throw a dinner party, take photos, knit a quilt, play music, write a children’s story, plan an adventure, organize and clean, sculpt and paint, etc.

Make it Personal

  • Pray for everyone on your Christmas list before purchasing anything. Remember what a gift they are.
  • Find presents that celebrate the hobbies and passions of someone else.

 Remember it’s not about the number of gifts you give. It’s about celebrating your relationship and giving thanks to God for that person.

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