I am not a big fan of this time of year. This time is supposed to be full of family events, holiday dinners and Christmas shopping, but let’s be honest, it’s exhausting.
Between decorating the house, attending family and church events and shopping for the perfect present, it feels like the holiday season is just too busy and way too expensive. What makes it even worse is that my wife totally disagrees with me.
Halloween was barely over before she started planning Thanksgiving and Christmas events for us as a family. I’m not sure where she gets the energy but I’m guessing the mountain of empty coffee cups in the trash with “pumpkin spice” written on the side is a good place to start.
And then as a pastor there is the yearly conversation about whether or not we are taking Christ out of Christmas. Call me a Scrooge but I think we, as a culture, did that a long time ago. It’s up to us as individuals to decide if we celebrate by going into debt buying presents or if we make this a time of reflecting on the birth of Christ.
I believe there is a great way to prepare our hearts for the holiday season and to keep us from getting caught up in the mad rush of the season. It begins by taking a Sabbath rest once a week. If your life is too busy now to take a Sabbath, how do you expect to be able to slow down and focus on Christ during a busy holiday season? It needs to already be apart of your weekly rhythm.
The Sabbath rest was given as a reminder that we are more that what we produce. The nation of Israel had spent a long time as slaves whose self worth depended upon whether or not they were producing enough to justify their existence. If a slave grew old or was injured and could no longer produce, they were simply executed.
If you do this long enough you truly begin to believe you only have worth as a human if you are productive. God commanded his people to rest and produce nothing as a reminder that their value came from God, not what they could do.
We still have this slave mentality. Many of us don’t know how to just truly rest; we have to be doing something productive. Trust me, I feel great after I accomplish something. I can even rest better if the house is clean or a project gets completed. And with two small kids at home, there is always something that needs to be done, but I need to teach my children that there is a time where it is actually good to produce nothing because God loves them not because of what they can do but because of who He is.
So this year, I am going to do my best to skip Christmas, at least the kind of Christmas that has made so many of us grow weary. I want the holiday season to be a time of rest and a time to reflect on all the ways God has shown His goodness. I know the Sabbath is no longer required for believers, but its principles can still help free us from our slave mentalities.