From time to time I invite my wife Lynda to share here in the column. As we begin preparations for the Christmas Season I asked her to share her perspective. She sees things through a different perspective and that is helpful to us as we prepare to welcome the King. Let’s give her our attention as she discusses preparing for Christmas. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This time of year is a time of preparation; preparing for a season of giving, getting, fun, frenzy and exhaustion. Just like preparing for a race, the Christmas season leaves us with much to do. In church at this time of year we hear about the Advent season. Advent is a time to prepare for Christmas. Each Sunday leads up to Christmas Day and we hear about the messages of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. But what are we really in preparation for?
When I am with Don at a race, I am amazed at the amount of time it takes to prepare for the race. Teams arrive hours ahead of the race and spend that time getting the car ready for the track along with time spent at driver’s meetings, time trials, practice and I had better not forget, chapel service. Obviously the winner did not get to Victory Lane by deciding to race that day and showing up at the track just a few minutes before the race began. Just showing up doesn’t guarantee a win. We can want to win but it can all fall apart by perhaps missing the driver’s meeting, not focusing on practice, not making the right adjustments or not having good communication between every crewmember.
So why does preparing for Christmas really matter? As we run around trying to find the perfect gifts, getting ourselves into debt and sometimes mumbling about how we can’t wait for this season to be over, aren’t we just trying to show those close to us how much we care about them? Is that what Christmas is supposed to be about?
If we look back in history we will find that giving gifts for Christmas is actually a relatively new thing. It wasn’t until around two hundred years ago that gifts started to be exchanged (before that it was considered an insult to give gifts on Christ’s birthday) and if a gift was given then it was a simple handmade or inexpensive gift so as not to make someone feel ashamed about the worth of their gift. Commercialism just started to take over somewhere around 50 to 60 years ago. From there it has spiraled out of control. We have all fallen into the trap of buying bigger and better gifts than the year before. Let me ask you how many of us can really even remember what we received the year before?
Recently I looked into the meaning of Advent and getting ready for Christmas. I first must admit that I was well on my way to having a rather bad attitude towards Christmas that year. I couldn’t possibly see how I was going to find the time to shop or even think about what to buy. I anticipated feeling overwhelmed and tired and I was sure that Christmas was going to come and go before I was able to enjoy it. I found the meaning of Advent, it meant “to come to” or “an arrival” and that it refers to Christ’s coming into this world.
Luke 2:8-20, 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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ 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, and on earth peace to men 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. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
However, Advent has another meaning; it also refers to Christ’s second coming, as He has promised to come back again.
Revelation 21: 1-4, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I have to admit that I tend to lean towards thinking about the birth of Christ at Christmas. As Christians though, we should be looking for the second coming of Christ. It should remind us that He is found within us every day, we are never alone and one day he will come back in glory so that we might share in God’s Kingdom with Him.
By bringing the true meaning of Christmas back in front of us we will be able to let go of the pressure of thinking that it is all about finding just the right gift or how much money to spend this year, which party to attend and do we go to the grandma’s house or just stay home this year? If we take the time to slow down and step back from all the frenzy we will find the moments that bring us the most joy.
What would happen if we spent less time shopping this year? Perhaps we wouldn’t spend the next few months trying to pay it off or catch up with the bills? Often we don’t realize that we put pressure on those around us to keep up when they can’t really afford to. They end up depressed and often dread this time of year because they can’t “show off” about what they have.
We have become very competitive about what we have in material things. It’s not that we have to eliminate gift giving or decorating but we need to get back to more of a balance. We often think that by doing less we are depriving ourselves from living the “good life”. What we don’t realize is that we actually will feel better about how we live if we have a more disciplined life. Having more things just means we have more to take care of or more to throw away or more things that we have to replace by buying the bigger or better model. By making things simpler and less stressed we can focus on what God’s plan has always been for us.
Romans 5: 1-5, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
After spending time looking into what Christmas should be about I have changed my way of looking at it this year. I am feeling I have more control over how this season will go, by letting go of the control over it and just remembering to honor God for the gift He gave us with the birth of Christ and the promise that He will come again.
When we look at the gifts that we can give, we should all realize that the best gift is our time. By helping those in need, visiting a lonely person, giving a friend a call or praying for a closer walk with God we will let go of the need to compete with those around us and the true reason we celebrate Christmas will follow us long into the New Year. May each of us have the blessed season that we were intended to have. God Bless!
Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support and donations helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.