Dec 04, 2020

Is There Time for the Holidays?

steven 12-4

Turkey and dressing, football, sweet potato casserole, cooler weather, and the beginning of the “official” countdown to Christmas are just a few of the reasons I love Thanksgiving each November!

Unfortunately, though, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can quickly erode the joy of Thanksgiving and Advent. The deals at department stores scream for our attention. E-commerce sites like Amazon.com offer seemingly endless options. And don’t forget about the parties at the school, with the company, and among your friends (will these all be on Zoom this year?). And if that’s not enough to add to the busyness of the season, days off work often mean catching up on projects around the house like the faucet that won’t stop leaking or the bedroom that needs painting. In many ways, we are products of our culture: a little more of this and a little more of that. So how should we, as Christians, respond?

First, I invite you take a deep breath and relax. Second, remember the words of the ancient Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Applying this text to our lives, I believe, means not feeling guilty after a busy day or even busy season. It’s good to plan parties for friends (even though that includes preparing meals and cleaning the house). It’s good to spend time with loved ones (even though that means scheduling another night on the calendar or taking longer for a meal than you are accustomed to). And it’s good to give gifts to those people we care for (even though that means taking time to shop, spend money, and wrap presents). Christians should not feel guilty about these “busy” times.

At the same time, applying Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 means Christians should equally not allow the next few weeks to pass so quickly that you miss the most important things of the holidays like time with family and friends or personal growth and development. Will you slow down enough in December to talk a little longer than normal to that person who may not be alive in December 2021? Will you pause during meal time or family time this Advent to read of Jesus’ birth from the Gospel of Luke? Will you turn off the radio or primetime TV one evening and listen to Matt’s recommended album by Andrew Peterson? Will you shift down a gear or two on your off day from work and spend time playing with your children, reading a book, or visiting a neighbor?

Could there be a silver lining in the COVID pandemic? I’m sure there are many diamonds in the rough, the least of which may be letting go of unnecessary or unproductive holiday season habits and replacing them with an eternally significant one? What can you do over the next four weeks that you couldn’t do last year?

Enjoy this Christmas season this year! More importantly, enjoy a moment with someone you may not see at Christmas next year!