Only 26 days ’till…

IMG_1262For many, Christmas will be a sweet and blessed time of gathering with family and friends. For others of us it means facing the realities of broken families, apostate children or parents, and the hard effects of sin and misery. For yet others it is a season of the poignancy of grief or loneliness. Likely for most of us it is a mingling of all of these. And then there is the shopping rush, church programs, travelling, time in cars, planes, hotels, with relatives, worship in other churches, and homes bustling with the noise of children and grandchildren.

Some of the most important things of life often slide to a very low ebb at Christmas. Devotional life fades. Personal communion with God is squeezed out. The heartbeat of our life in Christ is often the first to suffer as we are dislocated from our ordinary routines and surroundings. Shepherding children’s hearts slips as attention shifts to food preparation or socializing with family members we haven’t seen in a year. At the same time old relational tensions can rise. Unrealized or unaddressed spiritual issues in family members and friends (or ourselves) present themselves. And we, well-fed, and spiritually weakened, find ourselves lingering in mediocrity, failing to meet the challenge.

So what can we do? Undoubtedly some wise, intentional, prayerful preparation is key to navigating the bustle of the season in a way that delights our God and Savior, and richly blesses those around us. A few suggestions:

(1) Spend time with your spouse planning in advance how you will maintain the space and time for your own, and your children’s devotional life and communion with Christ, while away from home, or with a home packed with guests.

(2) Spend time in the coming weeks regularly praying for the family, friends, and churches you will visit, or those who will visit you.

(3) Strategically consider, discuss, and plan (now) how you can bless and encourage those around you with love and wisdom flowing from the riches of the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

(4) Involve your children in this, actively modeling for them and encouraging them to taking hold of the blessings and business of the Christmas vacation for the glory of Christ.

(5) Consider the many blessings and opportunities that lie ahead. Take hold of them with a grateful and glad heart. Remember with humility and gladness that you are bought with the precious blood of the Lamb, God Incarnate: the Redeemer King Jesus Christ.

(6) Pray that this season of worship, feasting and fellowship will display more of the beauty and glory of the Great Feast to come, through communion here and now with God and men in Christ.

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:6-9)