With the beginning of December comes the start to a most frenetic time of year. This is a season of parties, decorations, gift giving, elaborate meals and special church activities for those observing the Christian tradition of Advent. There is much to make us feel overstretched and tired before it all begins.
I would like to invite you to consider three practical suggestions to help you get through the season with peace and joy.
• Help a young person to give. For those of us who are close to children or grandchildren, or youngsters in the neighbourhood, it is easy to see how this season can appear to them as just a time of receiving gifts and conspicuous consumption. By no means would we want to snuff out that precious look of wonder and joy in a child’s eyes as they open a gift or gaze on a Christmas scene. But equally special is the experience of seeing a child learning how to be generous too. When we help a youngster to think about the needs of others, and to consider what might bring joy to someone else, we are helping to create an adult who will live a life of kindness and compassion.
• Spare a thought and a gesture for someone who is feeling blue. Amid the uplifting music and happiness of celebration, let us remember there are some around us who are struggling to join in. The joy of their friends and family may even magnify a sense of loss for someone who is experiencing the first Christmas without a loved one; or for whom sad memories return at this time of the year; or another one who is dealing with a scary diagnosis or with financial difficulty. When we are sensitive to those who cannot feel the same joy of their community, because of what they are going through, we can be a source of comfort and strength to them.
• Make an effort to reflect on the spiritual messages of the season. For many, December is primarily a time of religious observation, dominated by the Christian tradition of Christmas, but also a significant time for Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah. Wherever you are spiritually, this is a good time to consider the devotion of those who keep their faith tradition and the themes that go with it. We all long for peace on earth and in the Christmas and Hannukah stories we hear once again the faithfulness and promises of God who hears those pleas. In the birth of Christ we see the incarnation of our Creator who chooses to participate in the life of the world and so leads us towards reconciliation with each other and with God. When we take time to be quiet and reflect on these thoughts in our own spirit, we can experience the serenity and hope the world so badly needs.
May this be a special time of joy and peace for you and yours.
Rev. Alan Naylor is at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Qualicum Beach: www.stmarksqualicum.bc.ca