"I am merry" was plastered on a t-shirt someone was wearing as they shoved their way through the lines on Black Friday. I chuckled to myself and moved on. Later, I began thinking how many times I wanted to behave one way, but in reality behaved very differently. I don't know about you, but many times I've said "I'm not yelling," in a slightly "stronger" voice than normal. "I am calm," I'll say, with more tension than I'd like to admit. Saying it doesn't always make it a reality. Because our intention doesn't take us to a destination, our behavior and actions do. For most of us, the entire month of December has probably been a blur. It seems that we should all wear a shirt that says, "I am peaceful." At the very least, it would be a good reminder to us all.
Our friends at The Unstuck Group remind us where we should be finding peace - and it's not where a lot of my energy has gone this month. Maybe you are putting pressure on all the wrong things and then wonder why you aren't feeling peaceful. Let this be encouraging and maybe even challenging, and may you have a Merry and Peaceful Christmas!
Peace on earth isn’t the result of our festivities or traditions. And for us church leaders, it’s also not the result of “successful” Christmas services.
Buy perfect, thoughtful gifts for everyone who means anything to you. Wrap them neatly. Watch your favorite childhood movies and channel that innocent time into today. Make the cookies. Sing the songs. Drink the cocoa. Stand in line for Santa at the mall. Make the trip. Fight the traffic. Go to church.
Be the best, most joyful version of yourself the whole time.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
I’ve heard people say we shouldn’t tell high school graduates “college will be the best four years of your life” because it creates an unnecessary pressure on the experience. It sets them up for a let-down, or for feeling like they aren’t doing it right.
But our culture puts that same kind of pressure on the month of December every single year.
As Christ-followers, the way we celebrate the Christmas season isn’t supposed to be the source of our happiness. Our celebrations, and even our family time, can’t create deep lasting hope or joy; they don’t make for contentment or satisfaction in the coming year.
Peace on Earth
Many people who will attend your Christmas services are stressed to the max.
“According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people said their stress level increases during the holidays. Another survey, by the investment firm Principal Financial Group, revealed that 53 percent of people feel financially stressed by holiday spending, even though more than half of the 1,000 respondents had created spending budgets.” via U.S. News and World Report
Some of them are stressed because they’re at your Christmas services. (Would you like being compelled by your mother or grandmother to attend a service for a faith you don’t adhere to, with the added pressure and expectation to look like you’re happy and enjoying it?)
Many of the people helping you pull off your Christmas services may be stressed out, too.
After all, they’re volunteering their time and probably still have all of the same family expectations on them as the people simply showing up to experience it.
And… I bet many of you are stressed, as well.
Pastors and their families have far more commitments this time of Through your leadership, help people take the pressure off this season to make them happy. Point them to Jesus himself for peace.year than the average person. I know—I grew up in a pastor’s home. But it’s our calling to root ourselves in the love of Christ and experience His peace personally—all the time, but uniquely right now, when we have an opportunity to lead others to it in a way only this season affords.
Peace on earth isn’t the result of our festivities or traditions. It’s also not the result of “success.” If we don’t know that deeply ourselves (How much weight do you put on attendance to your Christmas services?), we won’t be able to communicate it to the people who are far from God around us.
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