whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
…and the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4: 8-9b NIV
And then it’s over. The candles have burned down to a nub and there is wax on my favorite tablecloth. My pretty holly dinner dishes are clean but stacked on the counter waiting to be packed away for another year. The cute cookie tins that were full of cookies just a few days ago now contain only a few stale crumbs. Our once beautiful tree now looks wilted and the bottom of the tree looks naked without the gifts skirting the base. As my eyes cruise the room I see stacks of unwrapped gifts everywhere that are waiting to find their new home. Piled up at the back door are several large garbage bags full of crumpled wrapping paper and crushed bows that are waiting to make their way to the curb for tomorrow’s trash pick up. I am finding it hard to believe that jut a few days ago everything was picture perfect.
This scenario reminds me that the glitter of life always leave us feeling let down and unfulfilled. No matter how beautiful and appealing the things of life are they are only temporary. The aftermath of a holiday, or a party, or a nice vacation can leave us feeling disappointed, lonely, and depressed. The truth is that there is absolutely nothing in this life that can satisfy our inner soul but Jesus and doing the work that he has given us to do.
I love my family and I cherish the time we have together but when Christmas is over and there is nothing left but hugging everyone good-bye and cleaning up the mess I must admit that I get a little depressed. I have even been known to shed a few tears. I think that this year I would be wise to guard my heart and move on in a positive way. I think that first on my agenda will be sitting in my favorite chair and sipping a hot cup of cranberry-orange cider as I mull over some of the very wonderful events of the holiday. Yes, reflection is exactly what I need.
What will I mull over? I think that I will try to think about the things that can’t be purchased and things that are true and noble. I want to think about things that are right and pure. I will choose to think about lovely and admirable things. I will mull over things that are excellent and praiseworthy.
To start with I will close my eyes and inhale the refreshing aroma of my Frasier Fir. Even after the ornaments have been removed the fragrance will still remain. Our Christmas tree will serve as a reminder that Jesus died on a tree and because of that I am forgiven.
I will also think of our delicious Christmas dinner. I love to sit a pretty table and prepare delicious food. Even though only a few leftovers remain I can still remember the good meal and the fellowship as we sat around the table. God’s provision is always something to give thanks for. Now this memory triggers my mind to think about how God continues to provide for me in unique and amazing ways every day. I am blessed and privileged to be under his Almighty wing of protection.
Another memory would be the twinkle in my grandchildren’s eyes on Christmas morning. The innocence of childhood and the faith of little children is something to imitate. Jesus has said that we need to come to him with the simple faith of little children.
Moving on I begin thinking about the music of Christmas. My all time favorite is “Mary Did You Know?” and perhaps for the last time this year I will hum that tune and play those lyrics over again in my mind.
The tree lights are still twinkling and as they twinkle I know that Jesus is my hope. He is the light in a very dark world. This year I am thankful for all of the gifts that I received, but at this moment I want to think about all of the rich gifts that God so generously gives me over and over again. They are his priceless gifts of love, peace, joy, and hope.
Still looking around the room I see splashes of red everywhere and this too, serves as a beautiful reminder to me of Jesus’ shed blood. It was his own precious blood that he shed for my salvation.
I must say that now my spirit is refreshed, but I think that my body is in need of a much needed nap. So what’s one more day? I believe that tomorrow I can clean up the Christmas mess with a smile on my face as I look forward to January and the start of a new year.
I believe that this year I have discovered a four step program for phasing out of a busy but beautiful Christmas.
Step 1 – Reflect on meaningful moments
Step 2 – Rejoice in the birth of Christ
Step 3 – Rest
Step 4 – Resolve to move ahead
This year my plan for moving ahead is to read all four of the gospels. Christmas is about the birth of Christ, but I now want to walk through the thirty-three short years that he walked on this earth. The winter months will be a perfect time for doing this.
How does Christmas leave you feeling?
What are your favorite Christmas memories?
Do you think that the four step program of Reflect, Rejoice, Rest and Resolve might be of benefit to you?
Thank you for the joy that I have experienced this Christmas season. Thank you for the music of Christmas that has carried me to heavenly heights. Thank you for my family that gathered together. Thank you Jesus, that you are the reason for this Christmas season. Thank you for the delicious sweet treats that I have enjoyed that remind me that your name is indeed the sweetest name on earth. Lord, I am tired so please give me your peace and rest. I know that you too rested after your work. Jesus I ask that you give me your direction and purpose for the days ahead. I pray that you would create within my heart a deep longing and desire to know you more as I seek to have your thoughts become my thoughts.
Now Lord, I pray for those who may not have had a wonderful Christmas. Jesus please wrap your arms of love around the poor, the needy, the sick, the lonely, the solider, and the one who is grieving. Father, please grant peace to each hurting life and give them a double portion of your love. Send hope into their heart. Comfort them and provide for them in the days ahead. Please help them to look to you for the grace they need to get through this difficult time in their life.
In Your Name I Pray. Amen.