For years, I’ve worked at being on time. I never used to leave myself enough time to get anywhere and would always find myself, and, to their great distress, my family, late for where we needed to be.
Lately, my work has paid off, and I have dramatically improved my punctuality. I don’t think my kids have been late for school once this year.
Then winter hit, and I was late again. I always forget that, thanks to snow, it takes that much longer to get anywhere.
Winter slows me down. Everything seems to take longer. I can fight against this, leaving myself the same amount of time at first to get where I need to be, but that inevitably stresses me out.
I am much happier when I finally accept that I need to slow down and leave myself more time. While this is generally true for my life at any time of year, I’m reminded of it again this Christmas season.
Christmas is not always quiet and peaceful. There are extra work activities, family gatherings, shopping, baking, and much more to add to our already busy schedules. Even during COVID-19, with our activities looking quite different, the pressure to create a magical and memorable Christmas season can loom large.
We might find Christmas zooming past as we try to get everything done.
When I find life moving too fast, I often miss the most important moments. Even though Christmas should be a time where we can slow down and appreciate our many blessings, we may never seize the chance.
One of my favourite moments in the stories around Jesus’ birth is a little comment about Mary hidden away in the hubbub.
After Jesus is born, shepherds come to Bethlehem to see the promised child. They are excited to see Jesus lying in a manger exactly as the angel who visited them said. There is much rejoicing and praise in the moment. Not exactly a silent night, but when the long-awaited and prophesied Messiah appears, a little noise is to be expected and welcomed.
While everyone else celebrates, which, again, is more than appropriate, Mary takes in the words and the moment, keeping them “in her heart” and thinking about them often. Mary seems to know that if she doesn’t take time to consider and remember things as they happen, it’s too easy to forget them. She holds onto this time, and, undoubtedly, many other moments, to look back on to help her have hope, meaning, and joy.
Don’t forget to take time this Christmas to slow down. Take in the special moments around you, those meaningful things that make it all worthwhile.
If Jesus is part of your celebration, take time, like Mary, to remember these significant moments from his life. Take just a moment even to treasure these times in your heart.
Don’t let the speed of the season swallow you up. Maybe you’re supposed to slow down, so you don’t miss what matters.
Jim Kedge is the lead pastor associate at Summerland Alliance Church.
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