Pause for Thought December 2016

nativityI read the visitors book in the churches in ‘my patch’ from time to time. We have old buildings which people come to see, but the comments in the books about a sense of peace always interest me. People appreciate, even yearn for, more ‘space’ in their lives and to be more at peace.

We are approaching what is for many, the busiest time – and often the most stressful time – of the year. I refer of course to Christmas. In amongst the busyness is it still possible find peace and some ‘space’ for reflection as we remember the birth of the Prince of Peace?

For many, December marks the beginning of Christmas events, and so a full diary of meals, visits, shopping trips, parties – and carol services- begins to get crowded.
It’s a shame really, because the time leading up to Christmas is known as the season of Advent. Many children have Advent Calendars filled with chocolate treats each day. But if you come to the church building, the colour adopted is purple, which is the same as Lent, which leads up to Easter. Now, chocolate is only mentioned during Lent as something you may have given up for Lent. That’s because Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, achieved through fasting, prayer, self-denial and self-reflection.

Advent was also traditionally seen as a time of preparation using the same disciplines of fasting, prayer, self-denial and self-reflection. Now it seems to be just too busy.
There is an incident in the New Testament where Jesus was visiting two sisters. One of them, Mary, sat quietly at Jesus’ feet listening to him and reflecting. The other sister, Martha, was caught up in busyness, trying to prepare a special meal (a bit like Christmas dinner). Martha complained to Jesus about Mary not helping out, but Jesus sided with Mary. There is a time to be busy and active – the Christmas presents don’t buy themselves – but there is time to slow down for a bit. I wonder who you are most like during December? Are you like Martha or Mary? Perhaps by being busy like Martha we miss out on hearing Jesus speak to us in the run up to Christmas. Perhaps we neglect important ways of preparing for Christmas that the season of Advent is there to help us with.

By the way, with Christmas Day falling on a Sunday this year, I am hoping that I will be a bit less busy, as it’s all a bit more ‘efficient’.

Have peaceful Advent and a joyous Christmas.
Rev Dave.