Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Quiet

Did you know it now costs a dollar to send a letter in New Zealand and I’m not sure how much for overseas. I usually send about a dozen Christmas Cards around New Zealand – that’s $12 not to mention the ten or so I post overseas … that’s a lot of money when you are on a sickness benefit.

There are lots of things to do…
Lots of cards to send.
Lots of presents to buy.
Lots of baking to do.
Lots of decorations to put up.
Lots of activities to attend.
Lots of presents to wrap.
Lots of food to eat.
Lots of extra work to attend to.
Lots of…. Lots of…. Lots of….

Do you feel like this and almost overwhelmed?
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this. I love Christmas and do what I can to make it a wonderful time of year. In fact this year is going to be so special, as I have two of my daughters and their families coming to stay so we are going to have grandchildren around and the house will be fill of excited children, chatter, maybe even tired tears but oh so many good memories to make. I know when it is all over I will be happily exhausted!

Tricia Goyer
Last week we had our Church’s Women’s homegroup Christmas lunch (that’s a mouthful!) and I offered to do the devotion. I have a devotional book titled The One Year® Book of Amish Peace by Tricia Goyer and I recalled reading an entry for the middle of December. I am drawn to the simple ways of the Amish free from the demands of materialism and although the book is American/Northern Hemisphere based, the content it still uplifting.

Here is a little of what it said:

"These days there is more than enough Christmas cheer to go around. There are holiday parties, cookie exchanges, and children’s programs. There are gifts to buy, and maybe cards to mail and homes to decorate as bright and beautiful as the magazine covers on the rack at the grocery store. Yet there is little peace. And on some busy, frantic holidays I’m certain that I’ve forgotten that the whole thing is supposed to be about the Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, 
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In the Amish home, preparations for Christmas start a few days (not a few months) before the holiday. If gifts are given, they are simple gifts for the children, there is often an Amish school Christmas program that focuses on Christ. In fact, in a book for Amish schoolteachers a new verse to the familiar carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was added:

O little In of Bethlehem
How like we are to you;
Our lives are crowded to the brim
With this and that to do
We’re not unfriendly to the King,
We mean well without doubt;
We have no hostile feelings,
We merely crowd Him out.

It seems even the youngest Amish children know what Prince needs to reign in their Christmas! Can you make an effort to remember the same?"

When I was putting up my Christmas Trees I was listening to one of my Cliff Richard's Christmas CD’s and a song came on “Christmas is Quiet”

As I listened I was drawn to the thought of escaping away somewhere to stop and reflect. Over the last few years I have made a point of having a break away either at a retreat or somewhere where I can have a couple of days resting without having to do all the work, in November. It’s something I learnt to do after my breakdown – part of looking after myself. The days in December have fast filled up with all those things to do and I have circled a day on the calendar and called it “Day Off”. I am not going to do any ‘work’ work or Christmas prep. There are no activities to attend. I am going to use the day to sit and read, pamper myself and maybe do some gardening or generally just sit.

I encouraged the group to do the same and ended with the prayer from the book:

"Dear heavenly Father, forgive me for my busy plans that tend to push You out. Help me to focus my thoughts on You today. It is there that I will find peace."

I encourage you to take time out and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas ... that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us so our sin will not separate us from Him. We celebrate His birth each Christmas.

I wish you a Christmas full of Peace.

Scripture from the New International Version 

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