It’s a Covid kind of Christmas…and many of us are left with a heavy heart and the struggle to figure out exactly what that means. Can we celebrate the way we have in the past? Should we even try? So here is the real: like it or not, Christmas will look different – but the meaning, the relevance, and the wonder does not have to change. We still have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in ways that are sincere and that honor the spirit and significance of the holiday.
First, we can focus on the true meaning of Christmas – It’s ok to miss all the things that we will miss this year – but don’t miss the significance of a Savior who literally left His throne to impact our eternity. Christmas is a special and sacred time when we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Now is the moment to reflect, to rejoice, and to worship. This is the time to reflect on God’s immeasurable love, unwavering mercy, and infinite grace that is extended to us each and every day.
Next, we can consider our personal traditions that hold the greatest value and look for ways to honor those activities in a new and fresh way. Coordinated baking days and times, with a mod-podge picture collage featuring highlights of each participant’s creations, could be an alternative to a large family bake off. Family gatherings on Christmas Eve and Christmas day can happen with a Zoom, Facetime, or Skype connection. Pick your time, schedule your meeting in advance, and send your family the link – you won’t even have to brush your teeth for this one! You may go old-school and share the Christmas story in Luke 2 with an old-fashioned phone call – extra points will be awarded if you make the call from a landline!
Finally, take a little time to slow down, ponder, and praise God for who He is and for all the ways He continues to show up. Even in a pandemic year, in the midst of a Covid Christmas, we, as Christians, have reason to rejoice. We serve an omnipresent God – even on our loneliest of days, He never leaves us alone. We serve a loving God – in the midst of hard things, His compassion is not in question. We serve a sovereign God – His power and authority are unmatched and unwavering.
May God’s love, His peace, and His presence wrap around you and comfort you like a soft, warm blanket on a cold winter morning. Merry Christmas – and God Bless.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. No pressure to have the decorations just right; no worries about finding the “perfect” gift. Thanksgiving for me is about family, good food, and taking time to reflect on the blessings of the last year. Sadly, this year, many of us are feeling more than a little shortchanged by the prospects of virtual gatherings, limited menus, and time spent mostly physically apart from loved ones near and far. Others of us are facing the first of many special events without the companionship of a loved one who has recently passed away. And a few of us, or our loved ones, are a little sick, very sick, or profoundly ill.
While we cannot change our current circumstances, we are not powerless. Instead of focusing on what feels broken, lost, or altered beyond what is recognizable, we can choose a spirit of thankfulness. We see examples of this in scripture from our friend David – who himself faced profound loss and complicated realities.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1-3
So today, regardless of our current reality, sadness or struggle, together we can choose thankfulness and offer a song of praise to our Creator, Savior and LORD.
T – God is Transcendent and not bound by space, time, or this current reality.
H – God is Holy and is incorruptible and fully separate from sin
A – God is Abba, and we can have a personal and intimate relationship with our heavenly father
N – God is Near in times of trouble, times of triumph, and every moment in between
K – God is King of Kings and Lord of Lord – and one day every knee will bow to Him
S – God is Sovereign. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and His purpose will come to pass in His perfect time
May you experience true peace and assurance that only our Savior can provide this Thanksgiving, and may your heart find reasons to make a joyful noise to the Rock of our Salvation.
Don’t miss the beauty and wonder of this moment. There are SEVEN weeks left of this beautiful fall season, so here are SEVEN fun things you can do on your own or with the people you love.
Go APPLE Crazy…Embrace the favorite fruit of fall! Make homemade candy apples – Apple crisp, apple chips, apple sauce, apple cider, or apple slices with caramel sauce. Yum Yum!
Pumpkins for everyone…Paint them, carve them, or cook them up. With pumpkins, your only limit is your imagination. From roasted pumpkin seeds to pumpkin bars, pumpkin soup, or even pumpkin ice cream – there are endless possibilities for eating, decorating, and enjoying this fantastic gourd.
Roast s’mores…Chocolate, Marshmallows, and gram crackers make smiles instantly appear. Whether you enjoy your marshmallows slightly roasted or fully charred, these fall treats can be made in the back yard, with a tabletop s’more maker, or over the stove.
Friday Night Football with a twist…We may not be able to enjoy a friendly game of high school or college football in person this fall, but on Friday night, there is still room for family football fun. Pop up some popcorn, grab a warm blank and help the kids snuggle in and enjoy these positive, family-friendly classics: The Blind Side (PG-13), Rudy (PG), and Remember the Titans (PG).
Leaf Peepers Quad Cities style…Watching the leaves change this time of year is as easy as grabbing your comfy car clothes and a tank of gas. Hit the road for a few hours and check out the beautiful fall colors at one of these local state parks: Mississippi Palisades (IL), Castle Rock (IL), Maquoketa Caves (IA), or Geode State Park (IA).
Take a Hike…Lace up your walking shoes and a hoodie and get outside before the snow arrives! Walk the river, walk your ‘hood, or check out a city park near you. Now is the time to stretch your legs, enjoy nature, and experience some fresh air before we all huddle up by the fireplace for winter.
Stargaze at night…Cool, clear, and crisp fall nights reveal some of God’s most amazing nighttime wonders! So, grab a blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, and your favorite person and go check out the stars in your own back yard.