Often people ask each other ‘what would you like for Christmas?’ As we get older it can be difficult to think of the ideal gift for yourself or for a family member or friend because through the years we gather much and are given much. When thinking about this matter I recalled something I heard on the radio while driving to visit someone. The discussion on the radio was all about health and diet, fitness and thinking about the quality of the food we eat. Another matter was the affordability of healthy food and the price of using a gymnasium. But one of the experts began speaking about time. He said that many people as well as being short of money are short of time, they suffer a time deficit. They simply lack the time to take to keep fit or to look for and cook healthy food. One thing that he highlighted too was people lack time to take care of the spiritual and social dimensions of their lives; equally important for their wellbeing.
I’m sure many of us can identify with this. Most of us would like more time and probably say ‘there’s not enough hours in the day or days in the week or weeks in the year’ to do all that we’d love to do. There seems to be so many demands on our time.
Sadly, it is often the spiritual dimension of life that is neglected these days. Often the first thing to be cut is church attendance, time to pray, time to share with fellow Christians. Spirituality should be an attitude, we should have a spiritual attitude to every aspect of our lives. Our whole lives should be seen through the prism of our spiritual relationship to God.
Indeed, modern life is a challenge. So many things are brought to our attention now, including matters we’d never thought of before. Jobs are no longer 9 -5 or 8 – 4, often both parents have to go out to work due to the cost of living and the expectations of modern families. Modern life just seems to be a drain on time.
Perhaps we could change the words “All I want for Christmas is two front teeth” to “All I want for Christmas is more time”.
However, in truth, time is in our own hands. How we use the currency of time is in our own hands. Time and tide wait for no man, time is like sand running through our hands and so on; priorities, priorities.
I recall a theatre critic speaking about a stage show he attended, it lasted two hours, he didn’t enjoy the show, thought it was a waste of time. He said, ‘that’s two hours I can never get back’. It’s true you know, once you’ve spent an hour or two hours, there’s no getting that time back.
This Advent as we prepare for Christmas, take some time out from all the rush and bustle, the mania that isn’t really the Christmas Spirit but sometimes a frenzy to meet deadlines. Take time out and use it to think about Christmas. There will be plenty of signs and signals to dwell on, advent calendars, nativity plays and scenes. The Advent Crown, the lights on the tree, carols sung.
Think about how you will use your time. Will you give some time to remember Christ being born, born to Mary and Joseph? Will you give time to that family sheltering in a stable, likely a cave, with the farm animals, the straw, the smell of the animals? Will you give time to think of the miracle of Christmas born in the most basic of places; a cave, no midwife, far removed from our modern world?
That occasion will call to us again to ‘Come and worship’, the angels will herald again this miracle of the Christ child, God with us, calling men to be at peace with God, to be at peace with each other.
Will you also give time to think of all those whose only companions are their thoughts, their memories? Will you give time to think of those fallen on hard times, no roof over their heads? Will you give time to those who will give their time to work at soup kitchens, at places such as the Lodging House Mission feeding and comforting the homeless? Lots of questions, questions, questions.
This Christmas consider your time, what you do with it? To what or whom do you give it? This Christmas give God the gift of time, give some others the gift of your time. And as the New Year approaches give consideration to the gift of another year of time and think how you will use it, weigh it up carefully, give it careful consideration especially when you make your New Year resolutions because time is just, if not more, valuable than money.
Time spent with loved ones is well spent, time spent helping others is well spent, time spent repairing is well spent, time spent with God is well spent.
As each of us approach Christmas and the New Year may we find time to ourselves, for others and for God because each of these is important.
A Merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year and God’s richest blessings to everyone.