Cultivating Intention At Christmas
The assignment was simple really. Mr. Pastor had asked if I wanted to preach at Christmas. One, it's hard for me to say preach without being self-conscious that I'm not a pastor and most women don't preach. But I'm learning to embrace it. I'm teaching the Sunday message and preaching.
Back to my story, would I preach on grace and Christmas? I said yes without thinking about it. That is, until a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago I started looking at the passage. I was expecting stories of a baby in the manger, wise men following a star, and angels declaring the birth of Jesus. Instead I got the most unChristmasy of passages....
“Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli, Heli was the son of Matthat...”
— LUKE 3:23-24
You get the picture. Nothing I imagined. So the verbal sparring began. I harassed Mr. Pastor about assigning this passage of father after forefather. Mr. Pastor harassed me by asking why I didn't want to teach the word of God.
We were at an impasse. And I was convinced that this passage was meant to be skimmed and not taught from. What could God have to say through the son of (you fill in the blank)?
I did what every self-respecting learner type would do. I hunkered down. I studied the passage. I read other books on Christmas and a few even had a chapter or 2 about the genealogy of Jesus. And what was an empty page became a 35 minute talk on the fact that God's story is our story. That Christmas was meant to change us and our families no matter where we come from.
As I move from the writing stage to the practicing part, I'm reminded that God works through generations of regular people like you and me to bring us the Savior of the world. Generation after generation of people who were just doing their part. God is always at work.
I'm reminded that God loves us when we're messy. When our family tree affects more than our DNA, God is in control. When we are a mess and don't have it together, God still uses us. God uses cracked & messy pots. It's when we embrace our mess that God can do His best work.
I'm reminded that Christmas is not a story to listen to but an announcement we need to respond to. You and I cannot save ourselves. You and I need a Savior.
So where does that leave us? The reality is Christmas was meant to change us. But often, we get caught up in tree trimming, gift buying, and the rush of the holiday season. What if this year we pressed pause on all that busyness and savored? What if this year we became intentional about the message and responded to it?
Making Your Christmas Intentional
I don't know about you, but I've spent a lifetime focusing on wish lists, gifts, cookies (I love the toffee bars my mom used to make). And sometimes, I need to force myself to slow it down, not fill every moment, buy some gifts on Amazon and be mindful of what Christmas is all about.
So how do we get there? While I don't live in your world and have your Christmas, I learned 3 quick questions that may help us out when it comes to being intentional about experiencing Christmas.
Who do you want to be this Christmas?
Sounds like a weird question, doesn't it? Just ask my clients - I'm no stranger to weird questions. If you and I can slow down long enough, we may find a different answer than just who you already are. To rephrase it, how do you want to show up? Do you want to be someone who savors Christmas? Do you want to be someone who loves? Listens first? Gives freely? Unrushed? What type of person do you want to be at Christmas?
Just a little note for all us achievers: God cares more about our being than our doing. What would happen if we relaxed our doing and embraced our value apart from the things we get done. Pursue presence over presents.
What do you want to do this Christmas?
Now that you've answered the be question, consider what you want to do. I can see all you list makers running for your list. Stop in your tracks. I don't mean do like buy this present for Suzie or make that special cookie.
I mean what meaningful things do you want to do? Serving with your family. Christmas caroling. Christmas game night. Meet that friend you haven't seen in a while for coffee. Think experiences instead of checking off tasks.
What do you need to have to do and be?
If you're a grammar officianado, your eyes may be bleeding at that last question. What do you need to have to accomplish the first two? Do you need time set aside with those you love? Do you need to plan that serving opportunity with your family? Do you need to pick a date that works for everyone? Find out whatever you need to be intentional about those things so you can make the first two happen.
Cultivating what matters at Christmas
I love preparing and teaching a Christmas message at Clarity Church. While I love teaching and using my gifts at my local church, I also love that it prepares me to cultivate what matters at Christmas.
The reality is that I'm easily distracted by all things Christmas. Lights. Trees. Gifts. Parties. Cookies. And I'm not always great about cultivating the things that are most important at Christmas. And when I want to cultivate those things, my confession is this procrastinator often starts too late to make my Christmas meaningful.
But it's never too late to change your life or your Christmas story. I believe that Christmas was meant to not just change our closet or library of books. Christmas was meant to change our hearts.
“Every heart can be a manger. Every day can be a Christmas. ”
— MAX LUCADO, BECAUSE OF BETHLEHEM
My hope is that each of our hearts becomes a manger this Christmas. What is one intentional step you can take this Christmas? In what ways can you make your heart a manger this Christmas?
I'd love to hear from you! In what ways are you cultivating what matters at Christmas? Comment here or contact me directly! I'd love to be praying for an intentional Christmas for you.