A church administrator commented to me today, “As I was preparing the bulletin for Sunday, and reading the lyrics to ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ I was struck by the words, ‘How silently, how silently…'” To her, Christmas time has been and is normally anything but silent. She pondered the question, “Where have we gone wrong?”
Its easy to play the cultural blame game, but it is our fault for being influenced by it. So another question to ponder is this: “How can Christmas time be more silent?” Not necessarily silent as in the absence of all noise, but ‘silently’ as in the absence of that noise, activity, that drives our focus away from the celebration of our Messiah’s first coming and anticipation of His Second.
For example, listening to good Christmas music (if you’re a reader of this blog, you know what I think is good and not good; but each has freedom to decide for him/herself!) can be extremely devotional, uplifting, reflective, and even challenging and convicting.
And not all activity is bad; in fact, many Christmas related activities are good. We recently had a Christmas party for our comm group in which we invited neighbors and friends without a church. Another comm group went caroling to elderly members and friends. Even our cookie outreach was stressful to organize, but everyone who participated found deep encouragement and a real Christmas joy in participating.
But there are some potentially (I also think they can be good with proper heart bad motivations) noises/overstressing activities in my opinion. The loudest noise/activity for me is shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I like buying gifts for family. But figuring it all out, running all over town; it never seems to end.
Getting stressed by Christmas shopping for Xmas presents a bad noise, which moves our focus away from joy and onto the stress of figuring out whether you spent enough or how well the gift will be received, or what the next person needs. I really haven’t figured out a remedy for this yet. Is it better to spread out your shopping, or just endure all of the stress in one day? I don’t know.
Perhaps a remedy would be to just draw names. Instead of shopping for small presents for a bunch of people, you might just get one or a few expensive things. That would certainly help my spirit during this busy time.
Today, I’m planning on not listening to any Sports Talk (one day out of the year isn’t too bad, eh?) when I drive and I will simply try to reflect the two important aspects of Christmas: His Coming, and His Return. I’m not punishing myself, nor am I performing some radio-less act of self-flagellation; I simply feel a need for some silence in my busy world. I’ll let you know how this exercise goes.