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Christmas Devotional: O Come All Ye Faithful

The school holiday wheels are already falling off and it is only day one. We have baked a cake, watched a movie, done colouring in and my current soundtrack to this blog is a pair of tap shoes that I am hoping miraculously get lost stat!

Mariah Carey’s rendition of “All I want for Christmas” doesn’t even have the lift for the fatigue that has set in this season. Moment after moment, we sit in the midst of our messy lives and we remember the pure joy of being human.

Perfectionism is rife at Christmas and the advent of social media has made us all experts in the filtered life. Then enters this Carol. It is one that often makes me hiccup in the middle of my December madness.

The idea of faithfulness does not sit well with our current climate of consumerism. Another way we could describe it is just showing up. Showing up for each other. Showing up for our families, even when it is far from perfect.

Over the last couple of months, I have been on a book club journey with a group of wholehearted women. We have been reading through Brene Brown’s latest offering “Braving The Wilderness” and in full disclosure, today is the last day of the book club and I am meant to be writing my final salutation from the book, to round it up perfectly and neatly, wrapped in a bow.

However, there is one problem. I haven’t finished reading the book. Yep, fail and shrug. You see I could have written a post about what I have learnt from the book and filtered the whole experience with quotes and nods filled with wise sayings. Dodging the reality that I was missing the point of the book altogether.

Being brave means being faithful. Which means we show up, even when we haven’t quite made the measure. See, Jesus entered a world that was upside down. I am sure entering the midst of humanity would have been a shock to his perfection. He sat and cooked fish on the shores of the ocean. Sat around tables and broke bread. Took the time to visit those who were sick and he was misunderstood by his family and friends.

“True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.” Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness.

So here I stand a little uncomfortable because I didn’t finish something I started but at the same time I am showing up and finding grace in the midst of faithfulness.

For my book club:

What lesson did you take away from the book? and what was your favourite quote?

I pray this Christmas for those who are faithfully showing up even though it looks very imperfect. Help us to discover our voice in the midst of disconnected moments. I pray mostly for those who feel isolated or forgotten this Christmas. Those who are looking for where they belong. I hope that they would find the courage to step foot into a church, a carols service and participate in the choirs of angels singing in exaltation. That we would together answer each other’s prayers in ways that could only be attributed to miracles.

In the name of Jesus

Amen

Day 10: O Come All Ye Faithful

New Days, a vision workbook has just been released for download here. A tool to help you reflect, journal and envision at this time of year.

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Christmas Devotional: O Holy Night

It was late Christmas Eve, I had been working at a production all week and I was exhausted. I’d come home to sleep over my Mums house ready to wake alone again at Christmas.

I watched the annual Christmas Carols by Candlelight on the television by myself. Tears dripped down my face and rolled onto my PJs.

I dreamed of future possibilities of having a family of my own. Wasn’t I too old to be at my parents house for Christmas?

Then Marina Prior walked onstage and her rendition of O Holy Night, brought hope from the depths of my soul.

This has always been one of my favourite carols. There is something in the words that breaths hope even to the tiredest soul.

Seek Holy even when it’s tough.

Seek the truth even when it hurts.

Find hope waiting sojourner, new days are coming.

This Christmas I pray even when it’s difficult that you find hope waiting. May peace find you in those hurting places and little surprises of grace sprinkled over your moments of solitude.

In the name of Jesus

Amen.

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Christmas Devotional: Peace Upon The Earth

The word peace in its rawest form means a world free of disturbance and tranquillity. The application of this word upon our earth means an age free of war. The human race has a thread throughout the beginning of time where we long for peace.

The quiet moment where we see communities working together for the “better good” of the whole rather than the advancement of the individual.

This Christmas more than ever I think we all long for good news. I don’t know about you and your house, but each and every time I turn on the news as my family settles in for the evening I regret it. The overwhelming needs found in our communities sometimes disable me.

Just recently I was sitting out to lunch with a new friend, who is a business owner in my local town. She said to me “I’d like to give back this Christmas”. I have stock that I often sell and all my stock runs low at this time of the year, but this year I want to give it away to those who don’t have much”. Over social media, we chatted about options and then we came together again to hatch a plan. Last week I went to go and pick up what I thought would be a couple of boxes of beautiful handmade products, to walk away with hundreds, upon hundreds of little gifts for people in our community.

I called our local refuge, who opens their doors three days a week for those who are needing shelter and safety, to see whether they would like to give them out to their guests. Then I also found a house of hope, that takes in young pregnant women and we gave boxes to them. Then we bought hundreds of them to a campaign that is supporting families in our community who are victims of domestic violence and are at risk.

One small conversation, that has flowed into the hearts and lives of many different families in our community. Peace is no longer decreed by the Kings of our land and leaders in far off places. Peace is waged by everyday people in the community reaching out their hands and giving from what is within it.

Proverbs 31: 20 says it this way

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

I know the war of peace is waged in the hands of the unseen, when we reach out and hold hands with a stranger, letting them know that we see their unrest.

I know the strategy of victory is employed when everyday housewives and check out operators smile, with a word of encouragement.

I know that greatness is found in the most humble of places and when we acknowledge the difficulty of those in dark seasons we surge forward the plight of peace upon our earth.

Christmas awakens the heart of generosity in humankind. When we celebrate one another, sharing homemade biscuits with our neighbours and extend our hearts to those in need, the battle is taken just one step towards a greater tomorrow.

My prayer this Christmas is that we would magnify the simple acts of generosity across our society more than the consumerism that seeps into our hearts. That we together would see kindness and the little moments to encourage another as the purest gold of our generation. Together may we thread our societies with the fabric of solidarity and unity. Together may we make a difference like no other generation. To be known as a people of generosity, acceptance and love. Together may we wage war against indifference and apathy. Together may we wage peace.

In the name of Jesus

Amen

Day 6: Peace Upon The Earth

New Days, a vision workbook has just been released for download here. A tool to help you reflect, journal and envision at this time of year.

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Christmas Devotional: Arrival

Today marks twenty days until Christmas and I don’t know about you but I’m swamped. Christmas parties, festivals and catch ups are blossoming. As my diary swells, I can feel my stress levels rising no matter what I do. I try to breathe, yesterday morning we cancelled plans and had a morning at home but the expectations of others crowd the peace inside my mind.
In this season of celebration, there is also a thread of preparation that takes us all by surprise. Little awakenings of hope when we remember the arrival of a little baby in a manger.

The first two lines of this Christmas Carol from the album The Peace Project take my breath away.

Who is God that he would take our frame

The artisan inside the paint.

You see at this time of year we get so busy preparing for the celebration, but often we forget to get ready for the arrival.

There is a story in scripture about ten young women. They are waiting out in a field for their master to come. I can imagine them chatting with excitement at the pending visit from their visitor. Five of the women took lamps out to the field so they could see the master arriving. These five women, however, were a little unprepared because they took their lamps without oil. The other five not only brought their lamp out into the field but also oil so they could see their master arriving.

It was like they went camping and were waiting for their best friends to arrive with a torch but they forgot its batteries.

See Christmas is fun, it is laced with red, presents, sugar and friendship but what if we did all of this in vain. What if we stood there with the birthday cake, but ignored the person who we were celebrating.

All hail the arrival of our Maker

God embraced our frame

When he graced the world He created

Whether you believe in a child saviour or not, there is something profound about the mystery of this time of the year. It is not about presents and food, family and gatherings, it is about breathing in deep the possibility that each and every one of us was birthed with purpose.

If we take that purpose away, life becomes meaningless.

If we take away the reason for our celebration it becomes shallow.

Take a few minutes today to write a list of what you are grateful for this Christmas.

Take a moment to centre yourself in the midst of the mystery.

Take one day and switch off everything and dwell in the present.

These are the things that help prepare us for the arrival. These are the moments that bring peace and grace to our present.

Peace is waiting in the preparation of our hearts.

This Christmas I pray that you would find stolen moments to slow your tasks down to breathe in gratitude for the present. That friends and family would find you connected to them like never before. When crazy emotions roll and peoples expectations are unmet that we would take the time to be slow with our speech and let grace abound. As we prepare our hearts and lives for celebration, I pray that I can remember to acknowledge the arrival of Emmanuel.

In the name of Jesus,

Amen

Day four: Arrival

Devotions inspired by The Peace Project.

Amanda Viviers

New Days, a vision workbook has just been released for download here. A tool to help you reflect, journal and envision at this time of year.

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Christmas Devotional: When I Think Upon Christmas

Sourdough baking has been teaching me lessons lately that I had no idea I needed to learn. Each loaf that takes sometimes twenty-four hours to make, stretch, rise and prove.

You see in a perfect world, I would have a spotless kitchen with marble benches and storage for days. I would have music piping and cinnamon sticks brewing on the stove with mulled wine tempting me into its presence. I would be quiet and reflecting, stretching the dough and waiting for it to rise.

My reality however often never matches my expectations as I stretch the dough and leave it to rise, I come back to a sink piled with never-ceasing dishes. The washing pile calls my name and flour drifts across my freshly swept floors.

This time of year tempts us with expectations that everything will be perfect and sanitised. We watch movies with white snow drifting and babies snoring in handmade rugs. However, the reality of most of our lives is very different.

When you think of Christmas past, do you remember the piled dishes? Do you remember the moments of mess and unmet expectations? Probably not but maybe yes!

Christmas in its simplicity is a celebration of something that happened thousands of years ago. There is something about the years that softens the heartache and magnifies the unique.

The phrase “Auld Lang Syne” translates as  “old long ago”, which can be translated as ‘‘days that have gone by” or “back in the day”. Thomas Keith, a scholar, says

“the song symbolises reunion not parting, as some mistakenly believe.”

The song looks back over happy days from the past, separation, then coming back together.

When I Think Upon Christmas from The Peace Project album is a beautiful reminder that looking back and to remember is a great gift of perspective.

Sourdough baking each Sunday is helping me create time to sit in the midst of the present but bring the perspective from my past. As I stretch and sift, wait and prove it reminds me that each and every one of our stories have seasons of messiness and moments of victory.

Each Christmas I take the time from the craziness to sit and reflect on what has happened the year previously. For the last fourteen years, I have sat and reminded myself of how far I have come, creating a moment of proving and rest. Despite the messiness of the season and the awkwardness of pulling away in prayer and contemplation, each year I come to a place of reflection to gather my peace.

When was the last time you sat and reflected, allowing yourself to gain reverence for what has transpired?

Listen to the song above and breathe in deeply the beauty of reuniting with the past and stepping into the new.

This year I created a workbook that can be downloaded or bought as a book to help facilitate this kind of reflection. It is called New Days. When we take the time to release the past, it creates a proving place of rest and the thing I know about sourdough baking, even when I think it is not possible, it always rises again.

This Christmas, I pray that peace would reign in your hearts. I hope that you find time to rest and in that proving place, you would reunite the power of how far you have travelled. I ask that the pilgrimage of hope that we all walk upon, becomes ever present in your moments of waiting and that you would find the grace to be kind to yourself again. May beauty amidst the mess help you remember that perfection is never the goal and when we wait for Jesus, he will always lead us home.

Amen

Day 3: When I Think Upon Christmas

Amanda Viviers