The Holiday Glut

cupcake_21006126Why do we love to do what is not good for us?

This will be my second Christmas without sugar, and this year I won’t even miss it. I am not tempted at all by chocolate or candy canes or puddings or tarts. My body has learned to see it all as a poison and my mind has followed suit.

But I’m not off the hook. I’m a glutton for other things. As soon as my holidays start my careful health sustaining routine goes out the window. I stay up late and sleep as long as I want. I forget to exercise and I eat when I feel like it, and lo and behold, within two weeks I’m feeling pretty average.

The word gluttony is usually associated with food, but I wonder if I could define it as the excessive consumption of what feels good over what is good? If so, holidays are a prime time for it.

I’ve really been challenged on this. Holidays give us a great chance to relax and let our hair down, but they’re not a time to let our glutinous feelings take over.

This Christmas, let’s remember to honour God with out bodies. Just because we can do it or just because we have the excuse to do it, doesn’t mean we should.

 

Wishing you all a lovely Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus and a happy, healthy holiday.

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Should Christians really ‘focus on the family?’

I don’t know the answer to this one, but I do have some questions, and I’m interested to know what people think.

If you’re like me, and you’ve grown up in the western church, you’ve probably noticed a huge focus on the preservation and upholding of the traditional, often nuclear, family model. We consistently have reinforced that Family is important; Family must come first. We even have a conservative political party named for this very idea.dollhouse-family-portraits_2749316

But I’m starting to question it. Maybe it’s because I’m 28 and single. Maybe it’s because I realize that the only reason I’m not alone at Christmas is because I live in the same city as my parents and siblings. Maybe it’s because my heart hurts on mothers day and fathers day and at Christmas when everyone goes off to celebrate with their neat little nuclear families and I see others left to feel the gap; to feel like they don’t really fit in a world made for poster-perfect families.

Don’t get me wrong, family is important. Marriage is sacred and children are a blessing, but somehow I feel like the Bible offers us something better than the nuclear family. I feel like maybe the New Testament wanted to change our focus to the Church family; to turn from the nuclear to the community; to cultivate ‘all together’ rather than ‘us separately.’

If ‘focusing on the family’ means that some just can’t fit in, aren’t we getting something wrong?

When Christmas isn’t Joyous

homelessAt Christmas time, we’re assailed by songs that tell us that it’s the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ We are encouraged to revel in the excitement of food and family and presents and general boisterous chaos.

For many however, Christmas is one of the most difficult times of the year; a time when loneliness and poverty are exacerbated; when spending a quiet night eating a tin of baked beans is not only lonely, but excruciatingly painful.

My heart goes out to those who are poor and alone on Christmas, and as the church, we should be reaching out to them, but I can’t help wondering whether Christmas’ ability to be devastating is evidence that we’ve really missed the point.

Who was more poor or alone on Christmas night than Mary and Joseph themselves? And yet the entire reason that we sing of it as the most joyous and holy of all nights, is that Jesus, the savior of the world, was born.

Secular society has made Christmas all about friends, family, presents and food, isolating people who don’t have these things. But that is never what it was supposed to be about. It was about God coming to earth in human form, in the loneliest and poorest of ways, to dwell with us and save us from ourselves. If this is really our focus at Christmas, it can be a time of great joy for everyone, even, or dare I say especially, for those who don’t fit society’s mold.

Is it not enough to just see with our eyes?

Fireworks over Water

Last night my church hosted our annual Carols by Candlelight. The event draws thousands of people and culminates with a large fireworks display.

This year the fireworks were spectacular, bursting into a clear sky in front of a full moon. I was standing at the back of the crowd, and wandered along the perimeter of the oval as the sky was lit by the dazzling colours. I must confess, my immediate instinct as they started was to get my camera out to take a photo, but as the thought registered, I looked out across the crowd and saw a sea of people with the glow of mobile phones reached out towards the sky.

Was it not enough just to see with their eyes?

I sometimes wonder how much we miss by being so consumed with capturing every moment. I once heard a story about a well-known musician who was giving a small concert. He announced at the beginning that there were to be no mobile phones, no recordings and no pictures taken; not only that, but this was going to be a one-off performance. The audience, knowing that they had this moment, and this moment only, to enjoy the performance, found themselves mesmerized by the music; engaged on a level that they  otherwise never would have been.

How often do we view the world through the lens of a camera, and never really take the time to really see it with our own eyes?

Jesus was never all about you.

proud_21072161Today I’m pondering the humanistic nature of… well… humans. We seem to believe that the whole universe revolves around us, which is, of course forgivable if you take God out of the equation. What bothers me though, is how much we still seem to believe it, even with God in the equation.

 As we approach Christmas, we do take the time to focus on the birth of Jesus, but I’ve been wondering – why do we think that Jesus came?

He came to redeem us (of course); because he loves us (He does)… but was it really all about us?

I think too often we think it was and we reflect that in the way that we attempt to emulate Him. Our mission on earth, in an attempt to reflect His, often becomes very human focused.

I’m convinced that Jesus was never all about us. He was all about His Father. His entire purpose on earth was to do the will of His Father; to serve and glorify Him, even to the point of death. The amazing thing about this was that it was the will of the Father that we should be saved; that Jesus should serve us and suffer and die for us.

As we aim to follow Christ, I think it is important that we follow him in this; that we realize that Jesus was all about glorifying the Father, and that his focus on humanity was a glorious byproduct of that.