The festive season is coming fast and many of us are planning for the days ahead. My theme for this year is: Joy to the world. This theme is an extension of my I Choose Joy theme which has guided me throughout most of this year. I talked about it a couple of weeks ago in my post Joy to the World but have been thinking about this ever since I reflected on God so loved the world and my recognition that God’s salvation plan is not for me alone, not for my neighbour but for the entire beautifully crafted world in which we live. As I reflect on the phrase Joy to the world, the same thoughts come to me. The joy of Christmas is not for me alone, not for my church or for neighbours. The joy of Christmas is for God’s entire world. We place animals around the manger scene but we don’t think much about their significance in God’s salvation plan. Maybe the joy of Christ’s birth is meant to extend to them too through our responsible stewardship of God’s creation.
So, over the coming weeks I will ask myself the following questions to try and prepare myself for the broad and rich expanse of God’s joy in the coming of Christ:
How do I choose joy in preparation for Christmas?
How do I tend to my joy?
How do I nourish joy in my relationship with God?
How do I grow joy in God’s created world?
How do I share joy with my neighbors near and far?
How do I celebrate the joy of Christ’s birth?
To make sure this is a relaxed, joy filled, season I have decided to celebrate with a full six weeks of preparation joining the Celtic saints who in the 6th century celebrated Advent during the 40 days before Christmas, as a mirror to the period of Lent before Easter. In this age of blurring of holy-days and consumerism, I like to start Advent earlier, so that Thanksgiving (at least as it is celebrated in the U.S.) is included, but also so there can be a longer, more intentional preparation for Christ’s coming.