Dec 022013 1 Response

Live Christmas on Purpose

Intention is a prerequisite for meaning.

If I walk through a flower shop and a beautiful bouquet accidentally sticks to my shoe, my wife will not be deeply impressed when I drag the bouquet home, no matter how beautiful the flowers might be.

Yet if my son sees a weed which he thinks is a flower, picks it, and brings it to his mother, her heart will flutter, the weed will be placed in a jar, and my son will be lavished with kisses.

The difference is intention. It creates meaning.

Many of us struggle with meaning in life, in part, because we struggle with intention. We too often live lives without design or purpose. The absence of intention results in a loss of value or significance. While we search for meaning, we would be better served to search for intention. To find the former, we must start with the latter.

The Christmas season is full of intention. Lists are made for presents and schedules often have to be negotiated weeks in advance. Meals are planned and order is given to every detail. Purpose surrounds much of the holiday.

Few people approach the Christmas season without some plan. Imagine parents of small children saying, “If we happen to find some gifts, we will buy them.” Or a grandmother thinking, “I might buy some groceries, I might not.” Important things deserve planning and planning often makes things more important.

While we often live with intention for much of the holiday, there is one aspect of the season which too many people ignore. Few of us have a plan for how we will experience spiritual meaning during Christmas. The very heart of the season is left to happenstance while we plan with great detail all the other aspects of the holiday.

The lack of intention creates a void in meaning.

Year after year a majority of people go through the Christmas season without it having any noticeable impact on their spiritual lives. The season which affects their checkbooks and waistlines has no impact on their souls.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Christmas has the potential to be the most meaningful time of the year. It can recharge us, physically, mentally and spiritually. It can ignite a devotion for God even in the midst of the chaos of the season. Yet it will only happen when done with intention.

This is the purpose of advent.

It’s a season intended to be lived on purpose. For the church calendar, advent is the beginning of the year. It sets the tone for everything to follow.

Advent is a focus on the coming of Christ. Primarily, it is a focus on his second-coming, the event which is yet to happen. It reminds us that God will one day invade this world in unmistakable power and might. In that day, there will be no doubt. Every question will be answered. Believer and unbeliever alike will know who God is.

Yet as we anticipate the second-coming of Christ, Advent also calls us to reflect on his first coming. There was doubt with his first coming. Most of the world ignored Jesus; they still do.

Advent calls us out of the chaos of the season, invites us to slow down and hear the echo of Christmas past. Even as we await the second-coming, we feel the longing of the world for his first-coming.

If we slow down, we can:

-Hear the faint prophecies of the Old Testament telling of his coming.

-Experience the desperation of humanity as God is silent for 400 years.

-Consider the emotions of Mary, Joseph, and the other characters in the story.

-Feel the hope, love, joy and peace of the birth of Jesus.

How can we live this month with intention:

Slow down. See Walk Slowly at Christmas.

Create a routine. The best way to be intentional about the season is to do the same thing at the same time every day. Whether it be when you first wake up, before you go to bed, as you are putting kids to bed, create a routine which involves the Christmas story and provides a time to reflect on God and his activity around you.

Read the Sacred Story. Devotions are wonderful, but they should never replace the Word of God. Slowly read the Christmas story as told in the New Testament and reflect on the prophecies of Christ found in the New Testament.

Ask for God to make himself known. God desires to make himself known. If you ask him to reveal himself to you and do everything in your power to listen for him, he will be found.

If we approach this season with intention, we can find meaning.

Yet if we walk (or even worse, run) these days without forethought, another Christmas will pass. Our waistlines and bank accounts will be changed, but nothing else will.

Meaning is found on the other side of intention. If you want the former, focus on the latter.

One Response to Live Christmas on Purpose
  1. […] I explained what I had noticed over the past few months. He was a fast walker and rightly so. The de...

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