It seems like a no-brainer. The holiday season, spanning Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas and New Years is rooted in Christian tradition, filled with special music and worship services, and fills our view with many Christian themes. The busyness of the season, whether it’s planning for guests, getting ready for travel, scheduling worship, buying and wrapping gifts or practicing for performances, we may discover that there isn’t a whole lot of room for Christ himself, a problem dating back to the birth of our Lord.
So, how do you stay close to God during this fun, amazing and busy time of the year?
Put him on the calendar. There’s worship at your church on Sunday mornings and maybe some midweek services during Lent. Ink them in and be there. Our Lord promises to join our worship gatherings of two, three or more, speaks to us as His Word is proclaimed, and brings His gifts of grace in the sacrament. These worship moments provide an anchor when you find yourself being pulled in many different directions.
Do a “plus one.” OK, you already have a morning quiet time or evening devotion. Grab a seasonal devotion and give him an extra five minutes. Our church gives them out. Many are available online. Here’s a great one from Lutheran Hour Ministries. Just like that first cup of coffee, jump start your day with His word rather than all the other things going on. It makes all the difference in the world. (Bonus points: get or make a little Advent wreath and burn the candles.)
Play a little sacred seasonal music. You can listen to non-stop Christian music every day beginning well before Thanksgiving. Much of it, however, will be secular rather than sacred. You can find it on Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and Amazon if you look. Most of your favorite artists have a Christmas album. I like “All I Want For Christmas is You” and “Sleigh Ride” as much as the next person, but you can do a whole lot better.
If you send Christmas cards, send one with a Christian message. You would not believe how many member of my church send me secular Christmas cards featuring cardinals, snowmen, and Santas! It’s usually around 50%! There are so many amazing and affordable cards that creatively capture the birth of Christ. Pick up a box of those to send out, for your sake and theirs.
Serve. Help out at church, help out a neighbor, help at a local ministry. Don’t just give something or send something. Be there. Jesus said, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Jesus came and spent time with those who seemed furthest away from the kingdom. That’s where you’ll still find him in this world.
If those don’t work for you, I’m OK with that. If gingerbread, Burl Ives, Kris Kringle, mistletoe and the Hallmark Channel do it for you, go for it. If not, why not try something different this year?