Friday, December 31, 2010

Holidays--A Time for Reflection

"The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."  Mark 2:27

New Year's Eve is here! At this time of year, thinking about the past year is inevitable for most of us. And because there are already so many reminders of parties and fireworks grabbing your attention, I thought it appropriate for me to say something sober on this occasion. Reflection is an important part of understanding our lives. And remembering is an important part of our holidays. So today I'm giving you an analogy from Meeting God in Quiet Places: The Cotswold Parables by F. LaGard Smith about holidays.

The origin of the word holiday has to do with holy days--like Jewish Passovers, Jubilees, and Sabbaths. It has to do with our seven-day week, which was established by God. It was God who blessed His creation and included a day of rest, making it holy. It was God who came up with the idea of taking a "holiday." Having created a day of rest, it was eventually a holy day with special instructions from God to the Jews for remembering the Sabbath. This is what God said:  "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.... Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."

A day off for resting was justified, but remembering what God had done for the Israelites in bringing them out of bondage in Egypt made the day holy. And now Christians have a day of remembrance on the first day of the week, because it was the day on which Jesus rose triumphantly from the grave, setting us free from the bondage of sin and death!

So how were holidays historically spent? In rest and remembrance. Holidays have always been a time for rest, but also a time to take stock of what the other six days are about. Time to gain perspective on life, so that we can remember the meaning of life...what is important. And holidays are a time for renewing our spirit--the part of us that is connected to God. Today our vacations are more about non-stop activity than relaxation. 

Our vacations, or holidays--holy days, would be better spent in quiet relaxation and reflection. What better way to remember what God has done for us? Life is passing quickly by without our noticing just how fast it's moving. A holiday spent in nature, where we can remember the beauty of God's creation, would help us feel more of God's presense. Children are naturally inclined to love nature, and parents walking with them on a holiday through natural areas would be an experience they would love and remember. And for the parents, it would be a refreshing time of re-creation. 

During this New Year's holiday, take time to reflect on the purpose and quality of your life. Are you living on a higher plane? Only a spiritual attitude can help you create that. A spiritual way of life is not just going to happen. You must energize your soul and spirit to harmonize with God's plan for His much-loved creation--YOU! We resist the time, energy and thought required to live God's way, without realizing that the only way to have rest on our holidays is with God through Christ.

Take time to reflect on the way you have moved through the last year. If necessary, use a journal this year to jot down the substance of your days. When you sit down to reflect on why your life is going one way or another, you can see--even in the sketchiest of descriptions--what has been happening to bring you to this point. Then ask God through Christ our Savior to help you have the life you want, and the life He wants you to have. Time spent in thoughtful reflection will change your life in 2011! 

No snow here, so Lisa, Steve, Quinlyn, and Michael will be coming to my house to celebrate the new year. So Happy, Happy, Happy New Year to all of you!
And many blessings...Mimi  

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