"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Well, Here We Go Again!

Many of those who know me think I am a 21st century Scrooge when it comes to this time of year. Rarely do I do any decorating of the house for Christmas, I go to a very few holiday parties, and make all attempts to keep a low profile over the next month until Christmas is over. I may play some holiday CD's in the car or in the office, but I can only take it for so long. Most of my shopping is done online and I avoid shopping malls and the mainstream stores like they have the plague. There are plenty of little 'mom and pop' shops around the area and in the north Georgia mountains where very unique and personal gifts can be bought with little or no hassle of traffic and funds. Where possible, I prefer to make gifts and do the best I can to not compare prices of gifts I receive with those I give.

As I explain every year....I am not having a crisis of faith or anything at all. My belief in the birth of Christ is as strong and as important to me as ever. My celebration in the Joy of His birth grows with each year, however, my next statement is the one that most people can't quite grasp. Through the years, the church has ruined far too years of my personal Christmas joy and excitement. Too many musical performances which require too many extra evenings of rehearsal meaning time away from home and family. Too many 'expected to be at' parties and functions the other nights of the week meaning more time away from home. Far too many services and programs where attendance is almost required so that more time is taken away from my own time and space. For several years, the stress and anxiety surrounding the season caused me physical illness and ever since the year I was throwing up in the pastor's new rose bushes the week before Christmas, I have tried to not get caught into that trap again.

In my thoughts, the season of Advent and Christmas is a time when I want to spend time in personal and private reflection about my place in God's work. By focusing on writings by my favorite authors, devotionals and the Scriptures, I want to use this month to reflect upon the past year and where I need to be in the coming year in order to serve Him to my best ability. However, when my time has been demanded and stretched too far, my spiritual side begins to take on the same symptoms as my physical side. This is the reason why I now tend to try and withdraw from all the hubbub facing us.

Being a single guy, I enjoy spending the season with family and some good friends. A good evening at home, fire in the fireplace, candles burning, music playing, catching up on emails with long ago friends, keeping close to my parents, brother and sister, and taking the time to write a personal note in a holiday card instead of the standard imprint for special people in my life. Add in a mug of hot cocoa, having some good friends in for chili or pot luck, and going caroling to those who are shut-in or in need of some holiday cheer .That's what the season is for; drawing closer to God, rejoicing in His Love Gift and sharing it simply and unselfishly with others. I think the church has lost sight of the simplicity of the season (in many cases) by trying to reach out to so many people that they wear out the few faithful ones.

So, don't think of my as Ebenezer, the Grinch or even Oscar...because I am not. I am so blessed with my family, my church, a wonderful group of friends and now a whole new family of bloggers (yes, that means you!). But, as for me....as the picture above captures, over the next few weeks I just want to "Be Still and Know that He is God." I encourage you to do the same.

So for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy. Be God's!


At 7:09 PM, Blogger JOE B said...

What did I tell you about inviting friends over for chili. You know that you and chili don't mix. hehe

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Nancy said...


I too tend to withdraw this time of year, part because of my sense of loss for my Mother (she died in December) and because of the commericality (is that a word?) Christmas has become. It has become a time of gift giving and rushing around and stress and not a time of reflection, togetherness, and peace.

It has also become a politically correct holiday... we must say "Happy Holidays" and not "Merry Christmas"

Joe, somehow I think that you are the one the chili needs to be kept from :)

At 7:53 PM, Blogger *~Tey~* said...

This is very true. My old church did this. I have been involvded in christmas carols concert for the past 6 years and every year I came away with the same experience of being over worked Awith too many practises, yelled at by people 'in charge' and humiliated because other people are really stressed... wow big surprise! After last years experienced I've realized that it's better to lay low at christmas and to enjoy the season. What to use in creating tension in a church. My old church problems is that they use people too much all year round, year-after-year that they end up losing the very people that made it all happen. I would like to think that people should get a break at christmas time. God bless and thank you for reminding me why I don't perform in christmas carols anymore... it'll save me some frustration.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Vicki said...

It's always a challenge to keep things in balance this time of year. I'm blessed this year to be home, though, and not stressed out at work anymore. Even so, it's easy to get busy writing, doing computer stuff, shopping, running here and there, forgetting to keep my time with the Lord. We could pray for each other regarding this. And take care of our physical bodies during this hectic season.

It's also a sad season for many. And singles are particularly lonely sometimes. I no longer have living parents, and there is a sense of loss as far as my 'career' goes, too, with health struggles, and all around me, depression is rampant.

Guess your post got me to thinking...maybe I'll say not to a few things this year, and spend more time praying fervently for those around me in need. My MIL was placed in a nursing home after coming out of the coma, and her fragile health has made me more aware of the needs of shut-ins right now. Ministry opportunities are abundant, within family, and outside of family.

God bless you, Jimmy. That was such a sweet comment you left on my blog. Brought tears to my eyes.

You're the best!

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Ron said...


I had not visited in a while, but I saw this post and had to reply. I totally agree with you! As I posted on Kc's blog, this was our Savior being born in the humblest of circumstances. His parents were told they could not stay at the inn, and he was born in a stable with animals, then laid in a feeding trough. And, the whole idea of the pressure of buying the right gifts seems way out of line. I am probably way too radical, but I agree with you, my friend!


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