Even though Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, we sometimes forget to breathe. Mark Schultz penned it the best — “we’re running just to catch ourselves.” We may experience moments of rest, but at the end of the day, Christmas can end up becoming more stressful than helpful. As Christmas Day approaches, I want to share five ways we can all breathe.
As a Christian, I find myself reassuring our family that we make sure to “keep Christ in Christmas.” Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s impossible to focus on more than one aspect of Christmas. We can enjoy several aspects of Christmas that are outside of Christ, but we can only actually focus on one. Hopefully, we choose to focus on the mission of Christmas (Click here to read about what I mean).
When we learn to focus on Christ, we’ll learn how to breathe. Christmas will move from chaos to mission; from overwhelming to a blessing.
Based on Advent, here are five ways we can practically breathe during the Christmas season:
1. Breathe HOPE and Anticipate the Future.
Just as Israel anticipated the arrival of the Messiah, we celebrate Advent and await the arrival of Jesus. But our hope and anticipation doesn’t end there. We anticipate the day when Jesus calls His Church home and when we spend eternity with Him (Isaiah 9:6; 2 Thessalonians 5:8).
There is so much hope in the Christmas season. The anticipation goes beyond any gift under the tree and extends to an ultimate gift — a Saviour born in a manger. Jesus is a friend for every day of our lives on earth and for eternity.
If we want to breathe this Christmas, we need to anticipate the future and experience eternal hope.
2. Breathe LOVE and Give Freely.
It’s fairly easy to encourage people to give during the holidays. Most want to help those in need. What’s not as easy, is to give freely.
Christmas continues to focus on receiving gifts. We make wish lists, and dream of what we could open up on Christmas morning. The gospel, on the other hand, is full of selfless giving.
Jesus’ very mission included raising up the poor and the early Church practiced that very concept (Luke 4:18; Acts 2:45). There were no expectations of receiving anything in return. The act of giving became just as natural as breathing.
If we want to breathe this Christmas, we need to recognize the needs around us and give freely.
3. Breathe JOY and Eat Together.
I know I probably don’t have to tell you twice, but there’s something really special about eating together. Jesus ate with his disciples and the early Church devoted themselves to the same practice (Acts 2:42).
When we experience true community, we begin to understand what it means to be the body of Christ. When we experience the body of Christ, we begin to share in the joy of the Christmas season. You can read about why it’s important to eat together (especially as Christians) by clicking here.
With that said, make sure to keep every social gathering sacred. That doesn’t mean we have to be always serious, but it does mean that we celebrate together instead of belittling and making fun of one another. Eating together shouldn’t encourage dissension; rather, unity and community.
If we want to breathe this Christmas, we need to eat together in unity.
4. Breathe PEACE and Relax.
Depending on your schedule, this may be towards the end of the season. I know, as a pastor, my Christmas relaxing tends to be after Christmas Day.
The point, however, isn’t to avoid doing work throughout the season. God calls us to action and often that action will require planning and energy. Just as we plan events, however, we need to plan rest, and learn how to relax.
When we learn how to relax, we will experience God’s peace in a new way. It doesn’t mean that life will be easy or perfect, it simply means we experience God’s peace through any moment (including ‘storms’) — You can read more about that here (Luke 1:29, 38; Eph 4:23).
If we want to breathe this Christmas, we need to slow down and relax.
5. Breathe with CHRIST and Focus on God With Us.
We need to focus on Jesus during every moment of the season. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy and have fun with ‘secular’ Christmas; rather, it simply means we need to experience everything in light of Christ. (Two blog posts on Santa: What Do you Focus On? & Who Has The Power?)
We don’t breathe because we spend time with family, we breathe because, in light of Christ, our family relationships prove to be important. The biggest difference — Jesus remains to be at our core. He will never lead us astray. If our human relationships are first, however, they can easily derail us from being selfless during the Christmas season. That might be difficult to hear, but it’s freeing when we accept it.
If we want to breathe this Christmas, we need to focus on Christ.
How will you stop and ‘breathe’ this Christmas?
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