Perhaps, like mine, your inbox and social media accounts have been flooded with messages about ensuring we keep Christ at the centre of Christmas, rather than being caught up in over spending and over indulging. I agree that it is, of course, a vital thing to remember, as well as keeping a check on our hearts – and our diaries.
However, it is far too easy to fall into condemnation over this season. It has been a tough one for so many of us, and so you needn’t feel guilty about what you haven’t managed to achieve; if you missed that advent retreat you saw advertised and longed to go to, know you are not alone – I did too!
For the first year ever, I also decided not to send Christmas cards. It was just one thing too many and the idea of finding time to write them made me feel overwhelmed, so I simply made the decision not to.
There has been so much to juggle, and I have had to learn to give myself grace for each day. In fact, I have prayed as soon as my alarm has gone off every morning for a fresh portion of grace and mercy from God for each member of my family.
As we look towards the Christmas week, when many (not all, I know) have time off and are planning to see family and friends (rules permitting), I just wanted to remind you as well as myself not to fill the days so full that there is no breathing space at all.
One of the things I’m looking forward to most, as both our children break up from school for Christmas, is being able to turn the alarms off, and take time to rest and enjoy just being, rather than doing. Yes, we have our church Christmas carol service, which we are heavily involved with, and there will be the Christmas Day service to prepare and do too, but the rest of the holiday period is remarkably clear. The odd social event, but I’m consciously not filling up every day with activities.
Whether our kids get bored, or appreciate the relaxed approach as much as us, we will have to wait and see. However, I’m very aware that Jesus taught the importance of being in rhythm with him and learning how to rest – and how desperately we each need that right now.
So, if like me, you are feeling low on energy and depleted generally, try not to worry if your house isn’t pristine this Christmas, if you don’t manage to serve up an enormous Christmas feast, if you feel you need to miss one or two of the social gatherings planned.
Instead, give yourself a break and take heart in Jesus’ invitation from Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message):
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
May you know his grace and rest this Christmas season.