If Facebook is anything to go by, a lot of people seem to be getting into the Christmas spirit. My parents were always ones for leaving the decorating until the last minute and certainly not getting the tree until the final week before Christmas. I seem to have married a man with similar inclinations, but yesterday I realised I needed to do some wrapping, and it wasn't going to be possible without some fairy lights up and a Christmas film on.
So we have decorated. A bit. And started an advent candle. We also had the first advent carols in our service on Sunday, the toddler group Christmas party, and our Christmas special assembly this morning. So I am feeling a bit festive.
But at the same time, I am niggled by a few concerns. The fact is, even though it's a celebratory season, challenging or difficult situations are still all around us.
It may be obvious to say, but let's face it, challenging circumstances are more difficult to deal with when you're trying to celebrate! 'Surely I'm due a bit of a break,' we think, 'It's CHRISTMAS!'
The bible (somewhat annoyingly, you might think) tells us to 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, [and] 18 give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18). Not just when everything is super. Easier said than done, isn't it?
Sometimes instead of rejoicing because of our circumstances, we have to rejoice in spite of our circumstances. And to be honest, if you are doing this, I really respect you. It takes a lot of bravery to look a challenging time in the face and say 'I will still rejoice'.
If you feel you need the strength to say that right now, my theory is, you will have more success asking God for it, than trying to work up the strength yourself. God has no pleasure in your being rinsed out and overwhelmed, and He can give you a supernatural ability to cope with your circumstances if you ask Him too.
So ask Jesus to help you to celebrate in spite of challenges this Christmas. It is right to celebrate the Son of God, coming to Earth. It is right to celebrate the birth of the greatest Saviour the world has ever known. And it is right to recognise Jesus' love for us caused Him to come to be with us.
Remember, there will always be something to worry about if we look for it, but there are always reasons to rejoice too. Jesus. Family. Friends. Tinsel. The Muppet's Christmas Carol. Eggnog. Turkey and cranberry sauce...
Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php