Well the time is flying isnt it? (or is that just me?)
Ready or not, 2017 is coming to an end and Christmas is fast approaching.
Every. Single. Year. I declare "This is the Christmas I'm going to be calm / spend less / really feel ready and at peace / have time for people / feel close to Jesus and hear His voice / have time and space to enjoy the run-up...and so on (sound familiar anyone?)
Anyone else secretly echoing this top's sentiments in their thoughts?!?!
I'm not an earlybird, or the most organised - and get this, right now I can't find my little Christmas notebook - you know, the one with the last last 4 years of presents given and received listed - anywhere!!!! If you heard Simon preach on Sunday you'll know this is driving me mad!
I'd really love to hear your tips for enjoying and flourishing during this season. We don't' want to just "survive it" do we!
Here are a few of mine.
Make my money go further
First thing to say is to set a limit and make a plan. Be open minded - shop own brands / supermarkets / vouchers / discount days / look at "what's already in my present box under the bed?" etc
Have you heard of "Give as you Live"? If you do any online shopping at all, it's an easy tool to incorporate into the buying process so that (at no extra cost to you) a charity can benefit from your spending. My explanation of it is it's just an extra step, a bit like a search engine - you use the Give as you Live website/app to get to the store you want to shop in and that way your spending can benefit Kerith's Social Justice ministry. It's a small percentage and so it's often small amounts like £1.50, but they all add up! If you've got some major spending, like flights, then that works too. Take a look here and spend just a few minutes setting yourself up, knowing that at no extra cost to you, your money will be going further and your spending is helping the people that access our help and support.
Plan for some fun events
I don't know what floats your boat, but I love a shared Christmas drink in a cafe and a mince pie :) I like to see the Christmas lights in town or in a fantastic big garden. I like Christmas music in the car and using my special Christmas mug at home. This week I'm going with a friend to a local Garden Centre for their Christmas evening - it's mostly to try on all the Christmas hats, sample the chutneys and eat pork pie samples, but a good bit of lighthearted fun is what we're after! There are Grottos and walks in the woods, there are crafts if that's your thing...just a bit of fun for you.
Enjoy Advent and Christmas...stay close to Jesus
How crazy that at the very time of the year when we are celebrating Jesus' birth, the greatest gift, our Saviour...we can feel so far from Him? It's the busyness that does it, and the lack of intentionality I find.
SO....last year I followed an Advent daily reading plan that was fantastic - every morning a few moments with the Bible and a cup of coffee, sitting in the stillness and connecting with Jesus. There are loads of resources out there. I like Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift - do you have one you follow?
Last week a group of us recorded some short daily Advent Bible devotions - so that's definitely something to incorporate into December. Ben Pocock led the charge, and hosted them brilliantly ...he even brought most of his wardrobe with him so we have a bit of variety over the month!
Are you coming to our Kerith Carol Concerts? We've got 3 in Bracknell, 2 in Sandhurst and a Carol Service in Windsor! Now's the time to be inviting friends family neighbours and colleagues. Come and be involved - it will do you good too - share the experience with friends at one, and then perhaps enjoy a mince pie or two with them afterwards; come and help make another one happen.
I'd love this next month to be meaningful for you.
I'd love you to flourish and not just survive.
I'd love for you to know the joy of including others in your Christmas celebrations and introducing them to Jesus.
I'd love you to have fun and friendship - to lean into community, and enjoy that we get to celebrate and worship Jesus together.
I'd love for you to know, trust, believe in Jesus - God who came to us. God who came down from heaven, becoming human, coming to us as a baby! Jesus, the greatest gift we'll ever receive.
So let's not put pressure on ourselves or eachother for a "Perfect Advent and Christmas" - let's go for "good" :)