The turkey buzz is over. This week alone we have five Christmas parties! I am tired just making my checklist of what to bring to each party, what to wear, scheduling childcare, etc ... As I thought about what to write for this blog my heart was overcome with the emotions and stress of the season. I want to be joyful and sentimental and have all of those "christmasy" feelings, but instead I feel cranky and frazzled.
As a teenager who felt a strong calling to ministry, I never imagined I would feel this way about Christmas. My favorite thing to do was attend our church's Christmas Eve service. I loved everything about it: the readings, prayers, special music and candlelight. I loved my pastor and couldn't wait to hear his message. I knew it would be meaningful. I missed the fact that his wife was at home with sick children, or that all of his extended family lived 10 hours away. I get it now.
My husband and I have been serving churches for the last 16 years. Christmas is much different for those on a ministry staff. The Christmas Eve service is right up there with Easter. It's full of excitement, lots of faces and heavy expectations. The pressure to perform is immense. Feelings of loneliness and isolation loom. My husband spends the day preparing his message, worrying about the crowd and hoping he'll remember names and stories. We arrive at church early to help set up. Christmas is much different on this side of the table. We must find ways to recapture a sense of child-like wonder in the midst of our grown up responsibilities. Here are some things to consider:
- Be Grateful. Typically we think of November as the gratitude month. I have friends who make lists of the 30 things they are grateful for. What if we let the gratitude spill over into December? What if we give thanks to God for the baby in the manger, the gift of the cross, the beauty of the season and family to celebrate with? We are so richly blessed. John 1 states, The word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have a God who came to earth and walked with us. He knows us, He gets it.
- Don't worry. We spend so much time making lists and stressing out before the actual event has even happened. We let worry creep in and consume us. We lay in bed at night thinking of all we have to do and fear grips our hearts and minds. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us: "Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
- Remember. Stop and think about what Christmas was like for you as a child. All of the magic and wonder. Our kids get it. They understand that it's not about the parties, the stress and dread of family gatherings. They can't wait to see their cousins and the twinkling lights everywhere. Kids love Christmas because they receive. Christmas is the ultimate picture of God's grace and gift to us. We receive not because of anything we've done, but because of God's sacrificial love. Christmas is full of symbols and opportunities to share Christ's love with the world. Let's remember and share the good news.
Meredith Snowden is married to Matt Snowden, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Waco. They have two children and love spending time together as a family. Some of their favorite activities are hiking and traveling.