Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
The story is told of a young man who joined a monastic order in a remote part of the country. Central to the ordered lifestyle of this group of monks was the discipline of silence. The brothers were only allowed to speak once a year, and then only two words.
After the first year the young man had a chance to address his superior. “Bed hard!” he said, and returned to his quarters and routines for another year. At the end of his second year, he once again took advantage of his privilege of addressing the superior.
“Tasteless food!” he announced with an appropriate facial gesture. At the end of the third year he approached his superior and his two allotted words were, “I quit!” “Well, I’m not surprised,” the elder monk replied. “You’ve done nothing but complain ever since you arrived!”
I relate to the young man. There have been times in my life when I’ve felt like quitting. Those times are usually around Christmas. For I hate the commercialism, dislike shopping, and generally feel hassled and hurried at this time of the year. But I’ve learnt that when I feel like quitting on the Christmas season it’s usually an indication that I need to slow down, take time to be quiet, and listen to the Lord. I suspect many of us need to learn this lesson and if you’re one of those people let me suggest three ways in which you can slow down:
Firstly, take time out. Make a conscious decision that Christmas doesn’t come and go without you experiencing the real meaning of the season – the birth of Jesus Christ. To make this possible you may want to read the Christmas narrative in one of the synoptic gospels, attend a Christmas carol service, or spend time in prayer and thanksgiving.
Secondly, tarry with relatives. Prior to Jesus’ birth his mother, Mary, spent time with her relatives. So visit the extended family. One of the greatest gifts we can give others is to make room for them in our busy schedules. The Czechs do this. Their custom at Christmas is to visit their family, friends and foes, and forgive any misunderstandings that may have arisen during the year. Why not do the same?
Thirdly, talk about Jesus. In Luke 1:39-45 it’s obvious that Mary, like any other mother, took a great deal of delight in talking about the child in her womb. In like manner, as we look forward to the celebration of Christ’s birth, we should become more and more talkative about Him. We should tell others about the baby who came into this world with the mission of reconciling sinful humanity with a holy God. And we should tell others about the love of the Father who “gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16.
to slow down.
Stop spending your
days in hectic ways. Stop
hassling and striving and rushing
around. For Christmas time is here again.
And something’s lost that should be found. So
won’t you pause in simple faith. And stop and see what
God has done. He sent to earth Immanuel. Christ our Saviour,
His only Son.