Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoice, Rejoice

Friends of Faith:
Rejoice, Rejoice!

If I think about Christmas the way the world has come to know it my first instinct is an anxiety attack. I have shopping to do, gifts to wrap, cards to write, cookies to bake, a tree to set up, a house to clean and the list goes on.
But if I think about Christmas with a sense of rejoicing in the reason for the season I turn to giving thanks for all of the gifts I have received, the greatest of which is Jesus himself.

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thes 5: 16
When I realize the true reason for Christmas and begin to rejoice in the reason for the season it is because I am giving thanks for the gifts of our health, a warm house, family and friends, a full cupboard, the opportunity of being able to go to church and the list goes on.

And instead of an anxiety attack I look forward in anticipation to a house full of kids and grandkids, singing Christmas carols, driving around to see the sparkling lights and the opportunity to see relatives and hear from friends that I don’t see or talk to often enough.
“My soul rejoices in my God. My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant. …..My soul rejoices in my God. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” Lk 1: 46-53
I think it is the very reason that I am hearing expressed more and more –“I wish we celebrated Christmas in the same way we celebrate Thanksgiving”….only the gift of ourselves, plenty of time to enjoy each others’company and most importantly truly rejoicing in thanksgiving for all what we have that is spiritually and emotionally lasting rather than material and fleeting.

The “ah ha” moment! To give thanks, rejoice, anticipate through the lens of Christ instead of through the lens of the world: in the wisdom of thanksgiving instead of the desires brought on by competition, comparison, and materialism.
How can I make Christmas be more like Thanksgiving? Yes, I still have to cook, but now it is a time of new and shared memories and a time to get in the way of all the other cooks.

How can I rejoice more, appreciate more and do less? What will I really give up if I just sit back and enjoy friends and family instead of trying to impress them with “perfect” gifts? When will we realize that we already have the perfect gift, each other—exactly what is realized when we express our desire to make Christmas more like Thanksgiving?
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel. Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice, rejoice, Thou wisdom from on high. Who order’est all things mightly, to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in the ways to go. O come, desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all humankind; bid thou one sad divisions cease, and be thyself our Prince of Peace. Amen. (O Come, O Come Emmanuel)

In anticipation, in thanksgiving, in rejoicing for the season – May each of you find hope and seek peace, share joy and profess love as we await the coming of Christ.

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