Everyday Faith

Seeking Peace in the Whirlwind of Christmas

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

How did you manage the crowds on Black Friday? Did you finish your shopping on Cyber Monday? Is your tree up and decorated? Are the outdoor lights trimming the house? Did you order the personalized Christmas cards with the photos of your kids? And will your presents be wrapped in color-coordinated paper to match the theme you’ve chosen for the tree this year?

Now to bake those cookies for the swap, and plan your menu for Christmas Eve, you’ve got guests coming in to ski over the holiday. Oh, wait, you better check the calendar and make sure the concerts you’re attending don’t conflict with the parties you’ve been invited to

It’s only December 3rd and you might already be longing to sit down and catch your breath.

By the way, does anyone remember the reason for this season?

What you need to get through the rest of the month is a strategy. And I’ve got it.

Say this with me: “Peace.”

As you say the word you sigh and your shoulders release the tension that has been holding them up around your ears. We need to make peace a daily priority this month.

Because this season, this time we call Advent is the prelude to the most important date in history and we don’t want to miss it because we were too frazzled to stop and notice that child wrapped in humble swaddling against the night chill, with only hay for a bed, and a sky full of stars flung across the heavens to welcome him.

This beautiful precious baby will grow up to save the world. Look what they said about him even before he was born…

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

We don’t want to miss his arrival. No, we need to use these next three weeks to prepare for such a special guest in our midst.

Every day, between now and Christmas, will you commit to spend ten minutes preparing for his arrival?

Each day, spend a few minutes reading a page from an Advent devotional. You can find free resources by typing “advent devotional” into your web browser, your library catalogue, or yes, Amazon. My three favorites this year are: Advent and Christmas by Henri J.M.Nouwen, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper, and The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.

After the Advent reading, quiet your mind so you can speak with God, and listen for His reply. Allow yourself to bask in God’s love, his tender embrace, and know that the small babe whose birth we will celebrate in a few short weeks, will re-define what it means to be loved without end.

That’s it. Two simple tasks. Less than ten minutes each day and I promise, by the time Christmas Eve arrives you will be ready to welcome Jesus. Your heart and mind will be filled with the true Spirit of the season, and “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Gospel Reading for the Second Week of Advent:

John the Baptist Prepares the Way (Matthew 3:1-12)
3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[a]
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

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