- Is my tree up and decorated?
- Have I sent out holiday cards?
- Have I finished shopping?
- Are the gifts wrapped?
- Do I know what I'll wear for the occasion?
- And what I'm cooking?
It's then, when things settle down, that I wish I could go back and do things differently - ensure that my spirit and not just my household was ready for the day.
I'm tempted to ask if anyone else knows what I'm talking about. But based on the story Jesus told, I'm guessing someone can relate. So here's your chance to do things differently this year - it's only December 14th now.
I recently heard of an old world custom that calls for all Christmas holiday preparations to be completed by St. Thomas Day, December 21st. That way the last few days of Advent could be given to focusing the heart, mind and spirit on the Christ of Christmas. Perhaps you'd like to try that tradition this year.
Or maybe you could commit to doing a handful of Christ-centering activities between now and Christmas Day. Exactly what those would be or what that would look like for you may vary but some examples might include:
- Commit to a consistent quiet time - start or end each day with the Word of God.
- Give generously to someone in need. Anonymously.
- Pick up that Bible study or Christian book/novel you've been meaning to read, and read it.
- Serve at a soup kitchen.
- Write Jesus a letter.
- Go caroling in your neighborhood with a couple friends or family - and invite those you sing to, to join the group for the next house. Print out a couple copies of the lyrics off the Internet.
- Read the Christmas story in the gospels. Or read one entire gospel.
- Write your own account of Christ's birth in your own words based on the biblical account.
- Go prayer walking through the park or snow and come up with 25 things to thank Christ for. Thank Him as you walk.
- Volunteer your time.
- Sleep in sleeping bags around your Christmas tree and reflect on the conditions surrounding His birth.
- Cook or deliver for Meals on Wheels.
- Put the most inspiring Christmas carols on repeat. Dim the lights, close your eyes and soak in His presence as you sing.
- Do that last one in the hot bathtub and thank Him for washing your sins clean.
- Choose one night to go without out electric light - use only candles - and reflect on the One who is called the Light of the World.
Let's not let this month be a whirlwind of preparation absent of reflection. Let's fully, spiritually, intentionally anticipate the arrival of Christ the Lord. If we concern ourselves with more than tying the perfect package bow, I think we'll find the gift our hearts really long for. And come Dec. 26, we'll feel full.
I'd love for you to share your ideas or plans for ensuring your heart is ready for the spiritual celebration of Christ's birth.