Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by Chris Diaz.]
“Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness. So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace. Interpret our Master’s patient restraint for what it is: salvation.” 2 Peter 3:11-14, MSG
“Do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace” That sounds nice doesn’t it? During this Christmas season, we all want to be found living at our best. When relatives we haven’t seen or talked to in awhile come visit, we want to show them how great our life is. We want to show how “together” we have everything. It reminds me of a character in my favorite Christmas movie, Clark W. Griswold. Clark wanted nothing more than for his Christmas to be perfect, but everything he tried to do to make his Christmas bright (literally and figuratively) failed or ended up backfiring in his face. All of his busy over-the-top attempts got him no closer, if not further from, the perfect Christmas that he so desperately sought.
One of the deeper parts of the movie, if you can call National Lampoon deep, is when Clark gets stuck in the attic and finds footage of his childhood Christmas. He stops, takes a breather for a moment, and remembers what the season is all about. It’s not about gifts, or the perfect tree, or how many lights you can cram onto your house; it’s about family, peace, togetherness. That’s how our Father wants to find us when he comes. He wants us to be present and purposeful in the time we spend with others, He wants us to love and care for one another. He wants us to find peace. He desires this from us at all times, but I think it is especially important to remember during the holidays when we are at our busiest and life sometimes seems to spiral out of control. Society wants us to fall into the trap of consumerism and spend more, decorate more, and give more under the guise of Christmas cheer. But, God wants us to spend more time with Him, decorate our hearts with fruits of the spirit, and give more freely of what we already have.
So what can we do to find peace? What can we do to let go and get out of the everyday demand for our time, money, and attention? How can we refocus and give that time and attention to our families? For starters, let’s get off the internet, close the Pinterest tab, and stop obsessing over everyone else’s perfect Christmas preparations. Let’s take that time to be purposeful and spend it with our family and friends.
Because of our great love of movies, our family regularly has “Popcorn Movie Night” We make popcorn and watch a family movie together. It helps us to unwind, let go, and reconnect with one another. Afterwards, we focus on the moral of the story. We discuss the good and the bad characters, and how God would want us to respond in that situation. During the holidays, we make it special with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and Christmas movies.
Family Experience: Every family decompresses and re-focuses in different ways. Whether it’s tonight after church, or a day later this week, plan a family movie night or similar experience. Make it a priority to reconnect with one another as we prepare our hearts for the joyous celebration to come.