Even my six-year-old is sick of the nativity this year.
Personally, I can’t wait to see cuteness personified in a bunch of tea towels, crowns, and angel wings. I love watching kids in a nativity. There are the angelic voices, the kid who is dancing out of time, the narrator who speaks really softly, and the one who SHOUTS-AT-THE-TOP-OF-HIS-VOICE-IN-A-REALLY-STACATTO-FASHION, and then there’s the moment of silence when all the audience can hear the teacher “whispering” the words to the kid who’s forgotten his lines.
It’s just brilliant.
But my youngest is not feeling it. He’s feeling the pain: it’s a grueling schedule of endless rehearsals to get the singing, the dancing, and the donkey moves just right.
Yes, my six-year-old has Nativity Fatigue.
But I think I know how he feels.
This ridiculously long term is filled with Christmas parties, carol services, Christmas shopping, dance shows, birthday parties, dinners with your best friend’s cousin twice removed.
It’s got first First World Problems written all over it, but I’ve already got Christmas Fatigue. And we’re only just warming up.
This morning I was jubilant that there were just two and a half weeks of this craziness left. I’ve gone into survival mode, viewing these next few weeks as some kind of obstacle course I somehow need to stumble my way through.
I’m so busy with my killer to-do list, ticking off jobs and events, that I’m struggling to enjoy any one thing. Each event is just another thing to complete, or finish, My mind is on the next thing before I’ve even finished what I’m currently doing.
I’m distracted, unfocused, rushing from one thing to another. And I’m missing out on the every day, the event, the people, the joy, that is right in front of me.
As usual, Rich asked me the pertinent question, the one I want to stuff to the back of my brain, whilst putting my hands over my ears, singing ‘la,la,la,la,la’:
What does it look like to finish this term well?
So what does it look like? What does it look like to not just stagger over the finish line but to finish this Christmas race well? I may not be sprinting; I may not even be running, but how do I at least keep a good pace, and what does it look like to complete this Christmas marathon?
There were three guys in the bible who seemed to do Christmas pretty well, demonstrating incredible focus: The Wise Men. Day after day, they followed a star because they had a hunch it was going to lead them to someone pretty special.
They maintained focus; they went after the one thing, following the star into the most unlikely of neighbourhoods, to the most unlikely of stables, to visit the most unlikely of Kings.
One focused journey, with their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, led them to the most precious gift of all.
But we’re not like The Wise Men, are we?
We all have lives to lead; there aren’t many of us who will be called to follow a star for the next few weeks. We have jobs to do, families to care for, party hats to wear…
But how do we take the essence of the Wise Men’s focused pursuit? In a season that’s all about celebrating the birth of a baby King, it’s surprisingly easy to cut Him out of the picture. But, I believe the busyness can still be done with focus, journeying with and towards Jesus; every moment given to Him as an act of worship, whether we’re singing in a Carol Service, unwrapping a Christmas present or tucking into the Turkey. It’s a choice of how we choose to engage with Him in those moments.
Recently I’ve been re-reading Brother Lawrence’s writings, Practicing the Presence of God. It’s a timely reminder for me in this busy season; we can continually remember Jesus through all that we’re doing, continually offering ourselves to Him, even in the most tedious of tasks, even when we have Nativity Fatigue. I’ll finish with some words from Brother Lawrence:
Begin now to accustom yourself, little by little, to worshipping Him. Ask Him for grace. Offer Him your whole heart. Over and again, in the midst of business, every moment if you can, just offer Him your heart.
With thanks to Thomas Dean, who got me thinking on some of these issues at morning prayers @ Central