Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas expectations

The last few days I have found myself not really looking forward to Christmas for reasons I did not know at first. It was not that I dreaded it. There just seemed to be the anticipation of it missing from the week leading up to Christmas. I just felt a little bit down and unexcited about the whole thing.

In the last few days I have realized that my feelings came down to expectations I have of Christmas and knowing that they will not all be met this year. For me, the best part of Christmas and what I most look forward to is the time with people - time with my family, people I care about.

Christmas has many traditions on my family . . .

. . . making crepes together on Christmas morning. Multiple crepe makers going, syrup being made, fruit sauces being prepared, bacon or sausage frying, my Mom, both my sisters, and I together in the kitchen bumping into one another as we work to get everything ready.

. . . opening our stockings right away when we get up. As kids it was how my parents got a little extra sleep on Christmas morning; we could open our stockings as soon as we got up and then we would play with what we found there until later in the morning when Mom and Dad were up to open the gifts under the tree.

. . . going to a Christmas Eve service at church followed by a lasagna dinner with my family.

. . . a big family Christmas dinner at my grandparents' in the late afternoon.

. . . my whole family being together on Christmas day . . . Dad, Mom, both of my sisters, and me.

Over the years, those traditions have become expectations about Christmas, and this year it will not all happen. Things will look different from the Christmases I remember growing up. I know this is the reality of growing older, but I do not really want to let go of those traditions.

And so, I found myself in the last few days having to adjust my expectations for Christmas. I do not have to forget about the traditions of my family growing up and in a different way many of those things will still be included, albeit at different times or missing some important people.

But, while there is nothing wrong with any of the traditions my family has had, the problem comes when they become an expectation of Christmas that I hold in such high regard I feel like I cannot celebrate Christmas without them. Family is important. But, the real reason for celebrating at Christmas is to take the time to acknowledge God coming to earth - the greatest gift of all.

Maybe, like me, you find yourself not really looking forward to Christmas this year. But, as we stop to really reflect on what Christmas is about, those traditions remain just that, traditions. We do not make them expectations that set us up for despair because they do not take the place of what is truly important.

Maybe it is time to stop and take the time to truly reflect on the reason why we celebrate.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

the gift of presence

In church this morning our pastor was talking about the gift of the incarnation - of Jesus coming to earth. In Jesus coming to earth, He came near and gave humanity the gift of His presence. Through Jesus on earth, God become approachable and accessible. He was no longer a distant being who required certain ceremonies to cleanse yourself before entering His Temple, and rarely, His actual presence. Because of the Jesus' incarnation, we are able to enter in to relationship with God. What an amazing gift to receive!

This is also a gift that we can give to our families and our friends. The gift of being present in their lives . . . of not being glued to our phone, our MP3 player, our TV, our computer. We can put all those things that our culture says we need to the side and give our attention, our focus, our time, our energy to the people in our lives. We can give the gift of our presence whether we have lots of money or no money. Being present with someone does not require finances, but it does require time and energy. But, the rewards of that sacrifice of time and energy will be worth it in the end.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

forgiveness . . . unforgiveness

Choosing to forgive
With the help of God
Frees us from the other
Helps us to move on

Unforgiveness traps us
Keeps our heart all tied up
With the one who caused us pain
Freedom seems elusive
Revenge our only choice
But when will it be enough
That the other person pays?
Will it ever satisfy?
Or will we long for more?

Maybe God does have it right
The only way to freedom
The only way to peace
Forgiveness from our hearts
Cancelling the debt
Letting go of anger
Giving Him our hurt
Seeking reconciliation
Moving on with love

Choosing to forgive
With the help of God
Frees us from the other
Helps us to move on

forgiveness . . . unforgiveness

Our world tells that it's fine
That there is nothing wrong with it
Our world tells us it's our right
That this what to seek

But is that really true?
Does our world have it right?
Or is there something different -
A better way to live?

The Bible says it's right
That it is what to do
By far the better choice
The one that sets us free

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

my new favourite Christmas song

Anyone who knows me will know that I find Christmas music to be annoying if I here too much of it. What I have been learning lately is it is not so much that I do not like Christmas music, but that I get bored with or tired of most Christmas songs that are frequently sung. If it is a song that is not as popular or newer or different in some way, then I actually do not mind listening to Christmas music.

On that note, I have had Downhere's Christmas CD playing at home for a couple of days and there is one song I keep listening to again. The lyrics just grabbed me when I heard it tonight and I have been thinking about them as I continue to listen to.

Gift Carol

Under the tree lights
All wrapped and labelled
Each one with a dear one in mind

Day's ever nearer
We're all the more eager
To see what, that morning, we'll find

Heaven gave the first time

There's a gift marked for us
By the angel chorus
Not in sparkly paper
But a lowly manger
Sealed in hopeful promise
For every doubting Thomas
From God, with love to all mankind

Under the startlight
Laid in a stable
God, with His dear ones in mind

Given the Savior
Soon to deliver
The brightest new morning you'll ever find

When heaven gave the first time
There's a gift marked for us
By the angel chorus
Not in sparkly paper
But a lowly manger
Sealed in hopeful promise
For every doubting Thomas
From God, with love to all mankind

It was the chorus and being drawn to dwell on the incredible gift that it is that made me stop to pause. Ultimately the gift of Christ was the best gift we could be given. May that be what we focus on this Christmas season.