Thursday, 3 December 2015

Hope is on the way 5: Is the Grinch stealing your Christmas?

Tia picked up Rebekah once again and they also picked up their friend called Lawrence since Rebekah and Tia had so much fun exploring why we celebrate Christmas and Lawrence liked the idea of it. Amongst the three of them, they talked about what they would like for Christmas.

They walked in the chapel, it was just Elizabeth, she started the book club meeting with an icebreaker question “Do you remember the popular children’s show The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

Rebekah said “Yes he was a mountain lair, the Grinch observed the people of Whoville happily preparing for Christmas. He decided to go down to their village and steal their joy. Secretly at night he removed food from the pantry, decorations from the walls, and presents from under the trees. Then he waited eagerly for the Christmas dawn to expose their emptiness. Instead, the dawn exposed his emptiness.” 

Tia and Lawrence had no idea what was Elizabeth nor Rebekah are saying.

Elizabeth knew that Tia and Lawrence had no idea what there were talking about by their blank expression. Elizabeth said to Tia and Lawrence that “All the Whos love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch. The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos that he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who, decides to try befriend the Grinch.”

Elizabeth went on saying “Many Grinches threaten to steal our joy and peace at Christmastime. We think we are buying just the right gift for someone, but it receives a cool reception. The rush of the season, long lines, and slow traffic replace our joy with frustration. Some relatives try our patience. After the season passes, unmet expectations dampen our spirit and the holiday blues move in. With the arrival of the New Year, we are relieved the Christmas stress has passed instead of our being refreshed by the promise of Christ.”

Rebekah said “More than we would like to admit, we allow the craziness of the Christmas season to be the Grinch that comes into our hearts to steal our joy. We should have new perspective, God can give us a transformed heart so that our circumstances don’t dictate our attitude. “
Elizabeth said “The new perspective we need is this:

G od
R eached
I nto the world
N ow
C hrist brings
H ope

Lawrence, Tia and Rebekah said “Why would that new perspective benefit us?”

Elizabeth answered this question by saying “During the holidays, we often strive to make the season just perfect. We want it to be magical for our kids and acceptable to our relatives. If we are honest, our striving is often to fill a need in our own hearts with love, approval, acceptance, or satisfaction. The holidays tend to highlight this void. It is a season of expectation, but we often come up short. In the midst of the parties, gifts, shopping, and activities, something does not meet our expectations, and we feel disappointed, or a little empty.

The heart of the Christmas message can give you a new perspective. In essence, God says to you, “I have stepped into the world to satisfy your soul and bring you joy.  That is why I sent Jesus. Circumstances and people may disappoint, but your joy, hope, and expectations can be filled in me.” This is what the Christmas story is all about.”

Rebekah said to Elizabeth “But what are the practical ways of keeping the Grinch at bay while securing our soul to the promise of Christ. “

Elizabeth answered Rebekah by saying, I was getting to that Rebekah.”

Elizabeth said “Shall we look at some practical ways we can keep the Grinch at bay while securing our soul to the promise of Christ?”

Tia, Lawrence and Rebekah said a big “YES!” to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth said, “Firstly we need to listen.”

What does that mean Elizabeth? Said Rebekah

“Rebekah, it means Inaugurate the season by treating yourself to a CD of Christmas classics, not songs of White Christmas or Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, but great hymns such as Joy to the World or Angels from the Realms of Glory. Ruminate on the rich message from Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. God and sinners are reconciled because Christ, our everlasting Lord was pleased to veil Himself in the flesh of man and dwell in our midst. He, the Prince of Peace, the Son of Righteousness, Immanuel, was born that we might be cleansed of sin and clothed in righteousness. Let the joy of the gospel penetrate your soul and flow through you to others. A mind fixed on Christ provides renewed strength and peace for stressful seasons. Said, Elizabeth. “Secondly, we need to read.”
Lawrence, said “what does that mean?”

Elizabeth said, “Lawrence it means open up the Bible to the Gospel of Luke and read the familiar story with new eyes. Put yourself in the place of various characters. For example, consider the story from Mary’s perspective. What must it have been like to be that young girl receiving a message from God after four hundred years of silence? How would she have felt? What would it be like to face your fiancĂ© and family pregnant? How would you have handled the rejection, misunderstanding, and gossip that Mary surely encountered? Imagine the apprehension of giving birth to your first child far from home or family and placing him in a feeding trough for animals. What can you learn from her faith and trust in God or her commitment to accept the call despite hardship and persecution? How have her circumstances or character mirrored yours as you labor in ministry? Remember Mary’s story as you encounter aggravating people and circumstances over the holidays. Thirdly we need to reduce. “

Tia said to “Elizabeth, what does mean?”

Elizabeth answered “Tia question by saying “Do you really need to throw that Christmas party in your home, host the school party, bake cookies, decorate like Martha Stewart, send cards, or buy multiple gifts? Prayerfully consider how you might reduce the demands on your schedule. We can expend so much energy celebrating the season that we run out of steam to celebrate Christ. Give yourself permission to decline an invitation, buy rather than bake cookies, or skip the Christmas cards so that you can maintain room in your heart for worship. Fourthly we need to adjust.”

Rebekah, said to Elizabeth. “What does mean?”

Elizabeth said to Rebekah. “Rebekah it means set expectations to match your reality. Life does not turn out perfect and neither does the holiday season. Turkey’s burn, family grumble, relationships at home or church remains strained. As you experience disappointment around you, keep in mind that Christ entered into a broken world to bring healing and peace. Though you cannot change others, ask God to work in your heart so that you can exemplify His love, joy, peace, and patience to the hurting world surrounding you.

Shall we end this book club with a hymn?

All three of them said a big “YEPEE!”

Elizabeth put angles from the realms of glory on YouTube and they sang their heart out.

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth:
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Shepherds, in the fields abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant Light;
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great desire of nations,
Ye have seen His natal star;
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Saints before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear:
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Remember, the Grinches are lying in wait for you this Christmas season. Plan now so they do not catch you by surprise and steal away your joy. Embrace fully the coming of our long-expected Saviour and allow Him to release you from the bondage of expectations the holiday season brings. Place your joy and hope in Him as you allow the magnitude of His birth to penetrate your being and rest assured that those sneaky Grinches cannot crush a heart satisfied in Christ.

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