November 30, 2006 • By Ed Wrather
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:4-7.
We live in western Oklahoma, and we are in the midst of a snowstorm, it definitely looks like winter has arrived. Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas is ahead, but you know that. I am into the holiday season and have arrived in the writer block zone. Every year in December, I have trouble writing. It could be because there are many things that are happening and many things that need to be taken care of. They are also known as distractions, or as some have labeled them, "the tyranny of the urgent."
Many are already sending Christmas cards and letters, in addition to the annual Christmas gift buying frenzy, which began with a bang last Friday morning for many at midnight. Even in western Oklahoma, it was reported that there was a crowd of 300 people at 5am at a Wal-Mart store to find the advertised bargains. I stayed at home on Friday, but did venture out on Cyber Monday to buy a Christmas gift for Jeanie, via the Internet. The gift has already arrived!
There are so many distractions that can come against us during this time of the year. We want to spend time with our families, and they want to spend time with us. For many, this involves traveling great distances and traveling several days at a time. There is the preparation time, for the family time, and of course the buying of gifts. Often, there is also the necessity of the preparation of food for the holiday meals. Along with all of that, there are the church events, from nativity reenactments to Christmas programs. There is also the hectic pace of school activities, where there are almost always Christmas programs of some kind, and basketball or other sports activities are going at a frenzied pace. For those schools that have band programs or vocal programs, there will very likely be some special presentations during this time. It all makes for a much busier pace of life for parents, many of whom are working their regular schedules, and will have an office party or other extra events along the way too.
I am sure there are many other things that could have been mentioned that complicate our lives during this time of year. Life used to be simpler, but even Mary and Joseph had a few complications getting ready for the first Christmas. They had to deal with the societal pressure of Mary being pregnant out of wedlock. Mary had to make a tough decision to have the promised child, and she was ready to do whatever the Lord wanted. Joseph had a tough decision to make, but he did make it, and he made the right decision. Then, they were forced to make a difficult trip, during the very last weeks of Mary’s pregnancy. After they arrived in Bethlehem, they had one more little problem; there was no room in the inn. Jesus had to be born in the stables, which many believe to have been just a crude cave.
I hope that you will not become distracted by the many events of the Christmas season, at least not too busy to remember to include God in your daily life. Let us rejoice during this time, and always remember the true meaning of Christmas. There may be problems and distractions ahead for you. They may rise up on the left and on the right. They may come at you head on, but remember that the Lord can give you, "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" to "guard your hearts and minds." God would have you to rejoice in the midst of the Holiday distractions. As the apostle Paul puts it, and he surely had his share of distractions, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"