The day AFTER Thanksgiving is always my favorite. I’m not a shopper, so it has nothing to do with doorbusters or camping on the Best Buy sidewalk. Rather, it’s a day of Sabbath Rest.
When I say “Sabbath” please understand I mean a holy rest. I’ll not debate the Saturday vs. Sunday people, because the argument completely missed the point. God calls us to rest, to worship, to focus on Him. Any time we do that, I consider it Sabbath.
So the day after Thanksgiving finds me and mine in our pjs much longer than typical. We play in a house filled with great food (thanks to feast leftovers), watch movies, read books and just do whatever we want to do. I love it. It’s like a “free” day of vacation. I get my Sabbath rest and then …
And then! Then all the craziness starts. School, church and family events pepper the calendar. Shopping still waits to be done, not to mention Christmas cards and charity events. Oh, and we’ve got birthdays and anniversaries and all our usual daily grind responsibilities. Just one day and THEN.
Tomorrow begins Advent. Today I want to share a couple resources with you. The goal? To intentionally step away from the insanity of THEN and focus our attention on HIM.
Before and After Christmas is a fabulous book filled with ideas and activities for quiet (or not so quiet) family times. Each “day” offers a Scripture reading (1-3 verses), a story (sometimes a legend about Christmas, sometimes details, symbols or historical facts) and an activity (craft, song, recipe, service project, etc.). You can pick and choose which ones you want to do — as little or as much as your family can. The book goes through Advent and Epiphany, so it can help your family redirect focus through January 6th, always with the intent of honoring God and remembering Him. Read my full review at CCBR.
Mosaic Holy Bible, a new format from Tyndale Publishing, features the New Living Translation (the back half of the book) coupled with devotionals (the front half of the book). There are several things I like about this compilation, but what I am most excited about is the liturgical readings based on the Christian calendar. The devotionals (usually about six pages long) are each assigned to one week of the Christian calendar, starting with Advent! These include suggested readings of Bible passages, reflections on Scripture, quotes from renowned theologians and teachers, reprints of great religious artworks, prayers, poems, and spaces for reflections and notes.
(As a sidenote, Tyndale also has a separate book of their Advent devotionals. Obviously, there’s no reason to get a new Bible, if you already have one! I, however, really like having the two attached. It’s only one book I need to grab if I plan to do my devotions at Starbucks after dropping the kids off at school. Also, the Mosaic Bible includes meditations for the whole year, not just advent. To get all that, you would need to collect their devotionals for Advent and Lent, and even then would still be missing the seasons of Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost. These are all included in with Mosaic Bible.)
Every year I say I’m going to take Advent seriously. Every year I make lofty plans, but … THEN.
This year I am super excited about these resources because they’re not overwhelming. Neither require daily time-outs to reap the benefits. Neither condemn with homework or extraneous preparation. They are both simple: take what you can and glean from God in a few moments a week. That’s it.
So, what are your plans? How do you keep focus during the season of hectic happiness?