Distractions. They happen to all of us. You might even find yourself distracted while half-way through this sentence! Distractions come in a variety of ways. Joseph’s relatives in Bethlehem certainly were distracted, enough so to where there was no guest room inside the family property (Luke 2:7). Yes, somehow, someway, Joseph’s family did not give Mary the hospitality we would have expected. In their case, the cultural paradigm distracted them from seeing how God had done something amazing through the miraculous conception of Jesus. But we cannot get judgmental here.
We too find ourselves susceptible to distraction every Christmas season.
If we are not intentional, the cultural priorities of Christmas will overshadow the true priorities of the season. Perhaps it is no coincidence why the song “Joy to the World” includes the exhortation: “let every heart prepare Him room.” We are to be intentional in how we prepare space in our hearts for what matters most. After all, the heart is like the throne of our inner-being. It is where our true loyalty and preferences reign supreme. Therefore, we have a responsibility for our own well-being, which involves preparing room for the Christ of Christmas.
Here are a several ideas of how to make the most of this remaining Christmas season (and also the ones to come!).
Plan festive activities with your family.
Go look at Christmas lights and reflect on how Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12) and calls us to be the light, too (Matthew 5:14). Decorate an ugly Christmas sweater. There are many activities you can still do, even with the unique situation we find ourselves in this year. We just might have to get creative! And through all the festivities, watch how they all point to Jesus. He isn’t only the reason for the season, He is the joy of the season and every chance to participate in fun activities are a way of celebrating His coming. Be the fun-festive family in your neighborhood!
Do a kind gesture for a neighbor.
Speaking of your neighborhood, is there someone who lives near you who could use a gesture of “good tidings”? Get the family involved and see how you can bless a neighbor. It does not have to be anything dramatic, you would be surprised how any act of thoughtful-kindness will be received in a year like this.
Turn off your phone when you don’t need to work.
When you work, work hard! But when you are not working, be present with those around you. Sure, this is not just advice for the holiday season, yet Christmas time is here-and-gone before you know it. Did you even look up and appreciate the moment?
Bake a Christmas themed treat.
One of the gifts of Google is how you can find delicious, easy recipes in a matter of seconds! Speaking from experience, it’s amazing how cathartic baking something yourself can be. But it’s something you have to try for yourself. So crank up the Christmas tunes and pre-heat the oven! After all, isn’t it amazing that God made food to have flavor? That is something new to add to your list of things to be grateful for.
Read, instead of watching TV.
Reading is good for us, and it has been a challenging discipline due to the continual rise of technological entertainment. There is a time and place to vege out and binge a show. But that does not seem like something you have to be challenged to go and do. Instead, buy a book or pull one off the shelf you have wanted to read. During this time of year it is always a classic combination to have a cup of tea, sit next to the lit-up tree, and read a book.
Schedule daily time to be with Jesus.
Surprising that a church would suggest this? Probably not. But isn’t it true that we all can get so caught up in the expectations and demands of the season that we miss spending time with the very One it is all about? That would be like attending a birthday party and not hanging out with the person the party is celebrating. Try slowing down and reflecting on the Christmas message. Read an Advent devotional or book and let the message lead you to an interaction with Jesus. After all, being with Jesus is more important than being busy for Jesus; a lesson Martha learned from her sister Mary (Luke 10:38-42).
These are just a few ideas that are meant to disrupt our distractions so that we don’t just fly through the season of Advent without experiencing the glory of Advent itself. What will you implement this season?