Preparing for Christmas, Part 3: STOP THE FRENZY!

I did something that no teacher would ever advise, yet it turned out to be a watershed experience for my class. Interestingly enough, it is just what we need to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Let me explain.

I still teach a high school class at Christ Presbyterian Academy, where I taught full time for many years. That one class, Men in the Bible, lays out the journey into real manhood through Scripture and story. Part of that journey is doing the unthinkable with a group of typically active and mischievous high school young men. I take them to a nearby park with only one directive: go off by yourself into the woods and spent 15 minutes in silence, reading the Bible and listening to God. Incredibly, they not only do it, they come back awed by what happens to them.

Why this response? Because many of them have never been invited into silence. Their usual pace in life approaches the frenetic, and the sudden stillness feels intoxicating. The experience is so marking that many of them want to continue it after the class ends.

This is exactly what we need to prepare our hearts for Christmas—silence. Stop the frenzy. Stop the madness. Cut back on parties. Cut down on gifts. Let go of the swelling to-do lists. Let go of the unrealistic expectations. We submit ourselves to such a frenzy every December not only because our world lives in it, but more importantly because we secretly hope that somewhere in all the busyness we will find the life that we ache for—a Currier and Ives moment on the sleigh, a picture-perfect feast on the table. But we will never find the life we ache for there. It is only found in the last place we usually look.

In the silence.

There we come before the One who is rest Himself and who will offer rest to those who come to Him. He who truly rested in the manger is that true rest for our hearts. To our own misery and sadness, we choose to run from Him, and in so doing, we run not only from ourselves but also from the rest offered to us.

So for this third week of advent, try what my class did: enter into silence for at least 15 minutes each day. Read part of the Christmas story from Luke 2, journal your thoughts and prayers, ask God to speak, and then sit in the silence and listen.

I offer no guarantees about what you may hear. But I can promise you this: you will find rest—and with that a taste of the life that is coming to all who believe.