Thursday, December 20, 2018

Step Away from the Treadmill

 We spent three days in Southampton last week as I needed some tests done in the hospital there and whilst in the city we visited the famous West Quay shopping centre. Wow! What a temple to the gods of Christmas shopping! There was so much going on but none of it related to anything I could recognise as linked to the real reason for the season. Not one of the songs being played so loudly was a carol or mentioned God and you could be forgiven for thinking it was Santa's birthday coming, or an event promoted by the Society for the Protection of Elves and Reindeer!

I love the atmosphere of a real family Christmas and the whole celebration of God's great gift of His Son. I also really enjoy this festival of lights in the middle of a dark and dreary winter here in the West. One thing that does bother me, though, is the pressure that it seems to put on upon us all. The need to prepare for a perfect Christmas Day - to get or to give the very latest gadget - to ensure that our kids have all they want or ask for - the rush to make sure we have got everything in before the shops close for 24 hours (yes only 24 hours and some may even stay open then!).

There will be many Bible readings in churches up and down the land in carol services this year. The one I don't expect to hear is my favourite, in the Message version. It goes like this:
Jesus said: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30).

How I need to learn those "unforced rhythms of grace", rather than stumble along in the clumsy footsteps of so many who seem to head for Christmas, lemming-like, heads down in the rush of this crazy season. I don't think Jesus came into the world to give us stress, headaches, pressure and a sense of impending failure. He came to search out and to save people who are lost. He came into a messy stable to bring the fragrance of God instead of the stench of cow poo, and the light of God's glory instead of the shadows of self-doubt and fear. So step away from the treadmill. Put down your heavy bags and choose to walk with Jesus at His pace, His peace, and His perfect plan.

Happy Christmas!