OceanSide church of Christ
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MAKING THE MOST OF CHRISTMAS GATHERINGS
Victor M. Eskew
The Christmas Season is a time of many gatherings. Most will get together with others at least three or four times. These events are supposed to be special times. They only happen once a year. When we get together with work associates, our brothers and sister in Christ, or with family, we need to make certain that we make the most of our time together. Let’s look at how this can be done in this article.
First, when we gather we should allow our hearts to be filled with much gratitude to God. This season of the year reminds us of just how blessed we are. We have our health. We have our family. We have plenty of food. We give and receive gifts far beyond the measure of what is needed. Our homes are filled with decorations. We have no fear that we are going to be harassed in any way. Truly, we are the recipients of many good gifts. Thus, we should bow our heads in thanksgiving. Paul tells us: “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:17-18).
Second, let’s enter these gatherings with a good attitude. We should not want to be the Grinch. We certainly do not want to be the old Scrooge. Who wants to display the demeanor of the rich but grumpy, Mr. Potter? Be glad to be at the event. Be nice and kind to all. Don’t look to criticize and complain about everything. Don’t be quiet and stand-offish. Be in the moment. Enjoy the jokes, the games, the food, and all the memories that are being made. Do as Jesus said, and, “Let your light shine” before others (Matt. 5:16). Give everyone something positive to remember about you. Please don’t be the party-killer.
Third, when you are at any function be willing to be a servant to others. Even if you are not the host or hostess, you can find ways to serve others. You can assist those with small children. You can give aid to an elderly person. You can help with cleaning up or putting away left-overs. You can take out the trash. The list of servant duties is endless. Often others will not stoop do to the little things. We, however, know that greatness comes in being a servant. The greatest servant who ever lived once said: “…but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:26-27).
Closely connected to being a servant is our fourth point. We must be able to forget self for a while. It is easy to think that life revolves around one’s self. Some think that all must be done just the way they want it done. If it is not, they have a tendency to “show out.” They let others know that they are not pleased or happy. Dear reader, gatherings at Christmas time are seldom about one person. An adult, especially a Christian adult, should be able to set self aside. What’s best for all is a better approach at special gatherings during the holidays. Paul summed it up well in Philippians 2:3-4. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Fifth, at Christmas gatherings and other events, we must practice self-control. We must definitely bridle our tongues and our anger at times. There are times when things can escalate quickly unless one person has the quality of temperance. No one has to “speak his mind.” No one has to scream and shout. No one has to storm out of the house. No one has to shut down. It is possible to “take the high road.” Paul knew that he could take charge of his actions. In I Corinthians 9:27, he wrote: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Bridle your tongue. Harness your emotions. Put a governor on your actions. Remember, less is better most of the time (Prov. 29:20; Eccl. 5:2).
Sixth, we must make certain we have our priorities right when we get together with others. People should come before things. Clutter may have to come before order for a period of time. Another hour of activity may come before rest. The needs of a child may come before a ball game. Remember, this is a special time. It is not a normal day. We must choose the good things, the right things, in order to make the day a pleasant experience (See Luke 10:38-42).
Seventh, we must accept that schedules are difficult for everyone at this time of year. On Christmas, some people have to be at two or three places that day. Within two or three days, some have to travel hundreds of miles to be at several gatherings. Someone may be late. Someone might have to leave early. That’s okay. Cherish the time you have with the person. Do something special. Get that once in a lifetime picture. Make a memory. If someone cannot be there, make a call or Facetime them. In our high-tech society, almost all can be included in our gatherings for at least a few minutes.
Yes, Christmas time is a time of many special gatherings. Each person plays an important part in making these gatherings a fun time for all. As we close, three words come to mind for all to focus upon: kindness, patience, and flexibility. Try to have fun. When the gathering is over, hopefully everyone will say: “I cannot hardly wait until we get together next year!”