December 2014 / January 2015

I was reading a meditation on getting ready for Christmas this week.
Although I did it through gritted teeth as I do not like having to think about it in the middle of November (when I am writing this). 
Even though some plans for Christmas have already begun, because if you leave things until mid November sometimes it can all go horribly wrong. So services are just about set, Church Christmas dinner has been organised, I have probably made all the Christmas cards I am going to. (Writing them will definitely wait until December though)

The writer of the meditation, Ann Voskamp, who can be found at notes that “Unless you’re intentional about the holidays — they will leave you in a painful daze.” 
Now, me not being in the US immediately wants to strike out “holidays” because we don’t have an autumn/winter schedule filed with Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas in the same way, here in the UK. But I realised that I still need to listen to the message of that sentence. ““Unless you’re intentional about Advent and Christmas — they will leave you in a painful daze.”

We need to be intentional about meeting Christ – celebrating his birth and looking forward to his coming again. To put anticipating the present of his presence on top of our to-do list and our Christmas list as well.
After all, as Ann Voskamp says – “Jesus isn’t really on the world’s Christmas list, because the world really wants something that will make a difference externally, because the world thinks our greatest challenges are around us —-
But Jesus wants to give us Someone, to make a difference internally, because our greatest challenges are inus, because He’s the only One who can change everything eternally.
We want things that we think can literally change our world — God wants to literally change us.
We want things we can touch — God wants us to touch Him.
We want things around us to make us feel good — God wants in us, to make us good.

So how can we do this? How about
• Making time every day to intentionally read the Bible and writing out a Bible verse that speaks to you, to keep looking at through the day
• Writing down something that you are grateful for every day and turning it into a prayer of thanks
• Borrowing a Rejoice and Sing from Church and going through the Advent hymn selection (moving on to Christmas as we get nearer the end of December), spending time each day with a verse of a hymn and thinking about what it means. (NB if you choose O come, O come Immanuel you may find this needs some work as it is not straightforward)
• By typing this link into your computer browser which will bring you to 25 “post it” notes to think about and meditate over

You will be reading this at a time when Advent has already started. “Aw shucks” you may say – “ missed the beginning, will try better next year” Well the good news is that you can start whenever you feel ready – go back and do a massive catch up, begin with day 1 or decided to start on whatever day this is.
Let’s be intentional in our celebrations so that we are ready to meet Jesus, our greatest gift.

Every blessing,

PS here are 3 of the “post it” notes for you to think about

I will simply, lavishly, love today.
God gives the commandment
to love to me - and God gives God
to keep the commandments for me.
Loving Jesus and loving everyone
are the biggest, grandest,
greatest gifts
I can give back to God.

I will not be driven by
perfectionism or performance because
I was formed by Love, for Love.
I will simply Enjoy
the Ministry of Presence today:
God’s presence, people’s presence,
the present moment, the gift of now.
The greatest gift I can give back
to our great God is to
let His love make me glad.

I will not let worry overrule today
or this Christmas. When the King rules
my world, I cease to rule or to worry.
All worry dethrones God
All worrying makes me King
& God incompetent.
I am going to trust that in the little places,
through unexpected people, His perfect
story is unfolding and unwrapping
all around me and in me,
the light overtaking the dark.