Blackberry Mountain
Joy to the world 12/21/2010
It’s almost Christmas.  There are 5 days left to be exact, though many of us have been shopping, planning, and preparing for the festivities since Thanksgiving (and even before that in some cases).  I am mixed with emotions over the holidays.  It is so busy and overwhelming with expectations that it can be hard to find Jesus among all the glitter and wrapping paper.  I’ve tried to celebrate differently this year but I still get caught up in the chaos on many occasions.  This past weekend I attended four Christmas parties where I was able to spend time with friends and family that I have not seen in months or longer, sharing joys and concerns.  I also helped direct a children’s Christmas program and took our church’s younger youth Christmas caroling.  All of the weekend was completely chaotic but I enjoyed just about every second of it (I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t panic a few times). 

While running around and accomplishing all of these tasks and events I was reminded that one of my favorite parts of the holidays is when we carol to some of our older church members.  The kids love singing and being together but the folks that we visit show us just how much it means to them.  Tears were shed, hugs were given, the youth were surprised with cookies, and sometimes the folks we visited even joined in with the singing.  The whole experience is truly a gift on both ends.  This year we decided not to call ahead so that we could surprise every person.  Every single unsuspecting member was completely full of joy when they answered their door to a porch full of smiling, singing children.  One couple joined us as we sang and told us that it was the best thing ever.  They had never ever had Christmas carolers or any other young people stop by like this.  They were 91! 

I love the holiday season because it brings together friends and family for gatherings that really don’t happen any other part of the year.  I think it is wonderful that the joyful spirits that we call holiday cheer can brighten the day of someone that lives alone or of a couple that doesn’t get too many visitors.  But I find it extremely sad that it takes the holiday for all of this to happen.  I’m just as guilty of it as the next person.  The holidays remain chaotic because we try to cram everything into a period of four weeks (otherwise known as Advent, a time that we are to prepare our hearts for the Lord’s arrival) in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It is my wish that we could take a morsel of the holiday spirit and turn it into something bigger and something greater that can be shared year round.  Consider this over the next few months.  When you take down your stockings and your tree, don’t pack away your joyful spirit too.  Keep the spirit burning inside of you so that you might feel the urge to visit a friend, to bring cheer to someone who lives alone, to share a meal with someone.  Don’t let the meaning of Christmas get packed away with all the other things that we store for 11 months out of the year. 



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