This Season, Take Time to Wonder.
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, which typically means the official kickoff to the holiday season. Today, turkeys will be basted, football will be watched, and politics will be gingerly avoided. Tomorrow, alarms will be set, deals will be sought, and Christmas music will be turned on (I will not accept an alternate opinion on this). And from now until December 25th, we will be in an all-out race to hit every party and bake every treat and wrap every gift and check off every box.
This year’s rush is particularly insidious, because this year we have the shortest possible time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s right: there are only 26 days – compared to last year’s 32 – to get it all finished. (Be encouraged.)
And it’s precisely because of that rush that it’s important for us to make an agreement with each other. Right now, before you speed past this post and sneak a sampling of your mom’s chocolate chess pie, make the following commitment:
This year, I will take time to wonder.
If you’re like me, you often get to December 26 and wonder exactly where the time went. Instead of wondering after the fact, why not plan for wonder while we’re in the season? Why try to cram in every last thing, rather than unplugging, stepping back, and using this as a time to reflect on the beauty of the incarnation and the marvel that God became man and lived among us? Why try to accept every invitation from everyone else, and not take intentional time with your family? Why get caught up in the trappings of a holiday about Jesus, without ever spending time with Jesus?
In his excellent book The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan says this:
The truly purposeful have an ironic secret: they manage time less and pay attention more. The most purposeful people I know rarely over-manage time, and when they do it’s usually because they’re lapsing into drivenness, into a loss of purpose for which they overcompensate with mere busyness. No, the distinguishing mark of the purposeful is not time management.
It’s that they notice. They’re fully awake.
How can you pursue of posture of noticing this Christmas season? How can you become “fully awake” when celebrating the coming of the Christ child? How can you take time to wonder? Here are a few thoughts to help you slow down and savor:
- Take time to read…really read…the passages about the incarnation: Micah 5, Isaiah 9, Luke 1-2, and Matthew 2. Don’t skim, but savor. Read and re-read. Read in several different translations. Read them multiple times over the next few weeks. Listen to those passages on your Bible app.
- Sit and stare at the fireplace.
- Use an Advent devotional guide or read a related book for a fresh perspective. This year I’ll be reading Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller. I also recommend Waiting Here for You by Louie Giglio or God Came Near by Max Lucado. My friend Matt Pearson has a more comprehensive list here.
- Take time to look at your Christmas ornaments again. Remember the stories behind the stuff that you mindlessly hang on your tree.
- Read a book (or several!) with your kids. My daughter and I keep this as a tradition, going back to her very first Christmas with us. We add a new book to the rotation every year, and work through all of them leading up to the big day. (Here’s a post from a couple of years ago with most of the titles.)
- Write a letter or send an email to a missionary. Many of them will be spending another year far away from regular traditions and familiarity of the states. Thank them for their service for the kingdom and assure them of your prayers in 2020.
- Drive around town and look at Christmas lights.
Here’s the key to the above suggestions: don’t make them one more thing you have to do. Instead, ferociously protect your calendar from filling up so that these are things you get to do.
How will you take time to wonder this season?