Monday, December 01, 2014

Are You Ready for Christmas?

December is here -- bringing the dreaded question everybody hates: "Are you ready for Christmas?"

Whenever that question is asked, the response is always a groan -- "Are you kidding? Don't remind me!"

The assumption here is that "Are you ready for Christmas?" means "Are your decorations all up, your cookies all baked, and your gifts all purchased? Are you finished with all of your Christmas preparations?"

Of course, the answer to that question will most likely be a resounding "NO!" (Unless you are one of those rare breeds who plans way ahead and finishes your Christmas shopping sometime around
Halloween. Many of us are "adrenaline" shoppers. We wait until the last minute, and then scurry off in a shopping frenzy.

I wonder what would happen if we moved being ready for Christmas from the "finished" side of the holidays, to the "beginning". Instead of thinking we have to be done with everything before we're ready, can't we "get ready" ahead of time? If we wait until all the tasks are finished before we are ready for Christmas, we miss out on the beauty of the season. A properly prepared heart changes the way a person experiences the days between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

One early December day, I was on a solitude seeking drive, and happened upon a monastery. If there's solitude anywhere, a monastery tops the list! As I entered the building, I noticed brown-robed monks chanting around, along with a white haired lady who was obviously a visitor.

"What are you doing in a monastery?", I asked.

"I'm getting ready for Christmas," she replied. Looking around, I didn't see any gift wrap or cook books.

"How are you getting ready for Christmas here?"

"I'm reading the works of C. S. Lewis." 

"Oh," I mumbled, "I didn't know Lewis wrote Christmas books".

She smiled as she responded, "He didn't!"

Today, as December 25 approaches like a freight train, I'm pondering: What can I do to prepare myself for Christmas? How can I tune my heart so I will fully embrace this sacred season?

Here are a few thoughts:

1. This Christmas, don't over-do it. Think ahead and refuse to overspend, overeat, or overextend yourself.

2. Refuse to succumb to commercialism. Gadgets and gizmos are merely clutter.

3. Practice the art of intentional generosity. (i.e. caroling, ringing the Salvation Army bell, helping others)

4. Renounce all "grinchiness" and willfully embrace the Christmas spirit -- love, joy and peace.

5. Keep Christ first in Christmas.

6. Express love through simple acts of kindness.

I hope the next time somebody asks the banal question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" You can respond with a surprise: "Absolutely! Bring it on, Baby!"

1 comment:

Mark Benedict said...

This is exactly what the season of Advent is all about. To prepare ones heart to receive fully the Joy-est celebration of the Birth of our Savior. Many have forgotten the constant form of prayer, that comes in the form of some form of a fast. To empty yourself of unneeded stress and fill yourself with prayer and reading the Word of God. In other words allowing yourself to be filled by the Holy Spirit during this season of preparation to receive our King. Thank you Mark