Today’s Christmas Pageant is all about time: God’s time, our time, how they relate and overlap. Time is something we take seriously at Christmas. Because, for many of us, it takes so much time. There’s traveling to visit family members (sometimes in more than one location). There’s hosting family members and all the time-filling preparation it takes. Then there are church activities, crazy holiday shopping, congested roads, holiday storms – the list goes on with all the ways that Christmas time can become crammed and over-booked.
The practice I have taken to over the years is to be more present. On my way home from work, I envision an empty, ready-to-be-filled box. It has no bottom, and I can place as much in it as I want. Then I replay the day’s events and mentally let them fall into this box. It becomes heavier and heavier and I imagine myself becoming lighter and lighter. Then no matter what is in the box, however frustrating, sad, anxiety-producing or joyful, I praise God for something related to each item. Then I say aloud, “I trust you will take care of such things, loving God.” Then I close the box and imagine passing it off knowing that, if God asks me to, I will reopen it if needed.
This might sound silly, but it helps me to be present when I get home, go on vacation, when I want to make sure I am living in the moment. I give God my burdens out of gratitude and trust. In a way, it’s like giving God a small gift. It shows trust and it invites the Holy Spirit to work in my life and the lives of others. It’s like giving myself a gift because it’s a daily reminder that no matter how much time I spend on anything, I cannot substitute for God’s presence, grace, wisdom and faithfulness. In speaking about the spiritual gifts God gives us, Paul says in Ephesians:
“But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said, ‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.’”
I wonder how we might imagine God during Christmas time or in our daily lives in a new way so that we are not held captive to anything that steals our time. I wonder how the beaming smiles of the pageant’s children today might center you on the joy of the Christ Child in this moment without worry of tomorrow. I wonder what struggles you might imagine placing in a box to hand over to Christ this holiday season. I wonder how God’s gift of the Christ Child might lift you up to sing, praise, and live a life of joy and gratitude.
In Christ, Pastor Nick