As you read this, I'm sure there are thoughts of presents to buy, food to prepare and cards to write ... or maybe you're better prepared than I am! Either way, there is no doubt that Christmas is a hectic time of year. Before we know it, it will have been and gone, and it will be 2017.
It is very easy to get carried away with the glitz and glamour of Christmas. The famous song goes "Jingle all the way" but do we focus so much on the jingle that we forget about Jesus? I know I can often get carried away and risk going through the motions. As an active member of the Salvation Army, my December is usually filled with rushing around, trying to get from one concert to the next, playing carols on the high street and preparing for the community carol night.
Then, of course, I have to get my shopping done, wrap my presents and visit family members and friends, all between zoning out at rehearsals and freezing my toes off on the high street. Which means I myself am often caught up in all the jingle. When I am actually at Christmas events for the Salvation Army – such as toy services or nativity plays – I find my attention slipping because there is so much going on. It is like trying to walk through an arcade to reach that one special machine (the one where you always win, and which gives out the best prizes) without being distracted by the various flashing lights along the way.
Now don't get me wrong – I am not saying we shouldn't enjoy the modern festivities or partake of some of the jingle. However, I would stress the need to make sure we find room for Jesus too; and the only person who can do that is you. Of course, it is easier with others around to help you realise that intention. Here at Animate we build up to Christmas by doing many things as a community. In our daily prayers we use a Jesse tree and look at the history in the Bible leading up to the birth and life of Jesus.
We put in extra time for evening prayers and services. We join together to do other things in faith, like decorating the house, yet we always strive to find Jesus amid all the jingle. We go to Christmas markets and on other festive trips, but at the centre of everything is our faith. You see, there is nothing wrong with a little bit of jingle, or even a lot of it, provided you have Jesus there too. Because that is what Christmas really is about: spending time with friends and family, sharing stories and making memories, but most importantly celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus.
What better occasion is there?
Dates for the diary
• Youth Alive – 11 December at St Anne's Church, Ormskirk from 6.30pm. All are welcome.
• Life and Soul+ – 18 January 2017 at St Charles, Aigburth from 7pm. Join us for an evening of adoration and praise.
• Lourdes 2017 – If you are aged between 15 and 25, download your application form for the Lourdes Youth Pilgrimage from www.animateyouth.org.