Well maybe the song should be, "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas". I know you have sung it at least once this week! Well the truth is... November 30th is the first Sunday of Advent. Christmas is coming!
This week our guest blogger and amazing Family Ministry Director, Nancy Varga has some insightful words on how we might prepare 'to prepare' for Christmas.
The countdown to Christmas has begun! www.xmasclock.com It seems more imminent now that the snow has begun to fall, and the temperature has plummeted. In some families, this brings out the master list and dutifully checking off each to-do before December 1st. The house is decorated, the shopping is done, the presents wrapped and the cookies baked.
In other families, the dread of the list of things to be done, and how it’s going to get done, is overwhelming. Half a string of outdoor lights, gingerbread house messes, crowded malls and pulling an ‘all nighter’ to get the presents wrapped are bumps along the way.
Which family in either extreme, is most faithful?
Advent is about anticipating, preparing for the coming of the Christ child. (Advent officially begins November 30.) The Old Testament is God’s preparative story of the Advent of Jesus. Much of God’s story is full of bumps along the way; some dreadful, chaotic and hurting. We now see in hind sight that God was present and working throughout His story but it was not always clear to the Israelites in the midst.
We are also anticipating the coming of God’s gift. In our preparation, we have wonderful opportunities to set aside time for family, friends, food and fun! We also have many chances to get mired in all of those opportunities. The Gift we are so eagerly waiting for is Jesus Himself who is freely given in grace. He does not take account of the journey to get there, perfectly crafted or crazy chaotic!
Let go of the guilt. Your family journey is yours, unlike anyone else’s. It certainly won’t be perfect, but instead riddled with bumps along the way. Are there strategies and help available to be more spontaneous or to reduce the chaos? Of course! Embrace the opportunities you have. Create new memories. Shuffle around your master list. Let go of failed attempts.
Ultimately, His Gift is waiting for us. It doesn’t matter how perfectly or imperfectly we come to receive. We are not recipients of God’s gift because we can wrap up presents with pretty bows, on schedule. We are not ineligible for God’s gift, because we are scrambling at the last minute.
My prayer for my children is that they will know that God’s gift of grace in Jesus is for them. Period. No strings attached.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
There are tremendous resources to help your family on the journey to Christmas from Advent Activity Calendars (see below), service projects, Christmas plays, faith books and movies. If you would like some more ideas, just send us an e-mail. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Use the ones that support your family, and set aside the others.
Prepare for Christmas with this free downloadable Advent Activity Calendar. http://www.thrivingfamily.ca/advent