As a pastor I have the privilege of talking to a number of people on a regular basis. When I ask them how they’re doing at this time of year, the common response is “I’m very busy!” And if they don’t say it, I often see it on their faces–especially on Sunday mornings when I mount the pulpit. So, why is that? At this time of the year our lives become full with Christmas programs and parties and carol festivals, etc.–all good things, right? But sometimes I wonder if we let our culture dictate our schedule more than we know.
I read an article this week called, “The Practice of Paying Attention,” by Ruth Haley Barton. It speaks to the problem of busyness in our culture. Ruth was one of the pastors of a large local church. Her schedule was constantly full–so much so, that she had little time for herself, not to mention for her family or community. Eventually she came to the realization that she was letting this happen to her. It was her fault! She was allowing herself to get too busy, and so she began to change her pattern of life to allow more time for paying attention. Now, I know that we all have many responsibilities. Our basic tasks are demanding enough, not to mention the expectations put on us by our churches and communities. But I do wonder what it would be like to slow things down a bit–to take more control of our schedules and begin setting a different pattern of life for our family, friends and neighbors.
Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation–for the (Second) Coming of Christ. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m too busy to even think about watching for the coming of the Lord. So I invite us all to slow things down a bit. What “extras” can you cut out, so that you can focus on what’s really important–spending time with the Lord, family and friends, etc. As you slow things down, I daresay you will feel more rested, have time for more meaningful conversations, and become more attentive to what the Lord is doing in your life. I can’t think of too many better Christmas gifts than that!