She looks around the room, everything is a mess and the to-do list still has empty boxes waiting for their tick. “Is this worth the time? I have so much to get done.” She takes a peek at her app, today’s reading, a quick scan. This doesn’t feel right, it’s like popping my head around the office door to say – “hi I’m in but super busy today”. I don’t want to rush it, and to write something while I still have energy would mean just that. Instead here’s a little something I prepared earlier.
Every year I get invited to Kent College to host an Advent Prayer room. I also am asked to take chapel on this day. Here’s what happened! I also made a super awesome sensory tray type thing — you will find it at the end of this post!
When it comes to hugging. I’m quite a complex creature. If you watched from afar you would think that I am a person who likes both to give and receive hugs. If you know me well, you know that there I certain people I will hug even on first meeting, and some people I will never hug. Complex. If you know me really well, you apparently also know the look which says “I know usually we would hug but if you take one step closer to me, I’m gonna have to punch you!” Are you a huggy person?
A hug, however, is different to an embrace. An embrace is the highest level of huggy-ology. An embrace is what you see at airports as loved ones leave or receive each other. An embrace is the way my dad once held me as I sobbed uncontrollably in his arms, or the way my niece greats me when I arrive at her house on Christmas Eve.
When I was first given the title of EMBRACE. I thought about all the ways I try to get into the Christmas mood: decorating the tree, rushing round Bluewater or gifts, writing cards, watching Hallmark Christmas Channel. But these activities, are merely hugs. They are not the embracing of Christmas.
Often I find myself trying to feel Christmassy or get into the Christmas spirit, filling up my diary with events, rushing from here to there and striving, anxious, rushed. Yet the message of Advent is slow down and prepare, rest in the hope that is about to appear. Christmas is not about us embracing it but rather God embracing us.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- God embracing the world, so whoever believes in him should have eternal life
- God embracing earth, making peace between him and his creation
- God embracing us, giving us access to an abundance of peace, joy, love, and hope as we look to him
As we allow His embrace, we find rest. From the place of rest, energy comes, and we begin to express our embrace of Christmas.
Most of you know the story of the Christmas Truce. On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. To this day historians continue to disagree over the specifics: no one knows where it began or how it spread, or if, by some curious festive magic, it broke out simultaneously across the trenches. It is thought some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce.
It was, sadly, just a truce, not peace. Yet why, was t really festive magic? Perhaps as they reflected on the fact it was Christmas Eve, singing their carols, thinking on the Prince of Peace, born in a stable in chaotic times. Maybe this drew them to the embrace.
The Hope of Christmas is that Christ would continue his work renewing the world and one we will see a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be total peace, love, joy and rest. Yet for now, those who know him, allow these characteristics of His Kingdom and His people to expressed through them as they embrace Him
Give yourself time today, and throughout Advent to embrace the peace, hope, love joy and rest that Christ was born to bring.
Christmas Sensory Tray
You need: Turkey Roasting Tin (disposable), freezer bag, Red Poster Paint, Dry White Rice, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Glitter, Mini Stars/foils, 3 Small Baubles, 3 jingle bells, Christmas Potpourri/mini Christmas Trees/Wreath accessories.
Pour around 300g of rice into a freezer bag. Add a generous dollop of red poster paint and start squashing and massaging the paint into the rice – if you’ve got children with you I’d bet they’d love this bit. Then pour out onto a kitchen tray lined with greaseproof paper and leave to dry. I left mine by a radiator to speed up the process. It was definitely dry in a couple of hours but I left it to the morning.
Pour it into the roasting tray and add to it 200g of plain white rice. This gives a cool candy cane vibe.
Now add the glitter and mini stars and foils – I picked up all mine from The Works and used about 1/4 bottle of each and stirred it in – it’s up to you how much you want it to take over but I quite liked the traditional red and white rice showing through the most.
Then I added 1/2 tsp of each of the spices. Just enough that the scent came through.
Now it is time for the accessories. I added three jungle bells (also from The Works) and three baubles. I chose a glittery one, a plain one and a textured one. I had a basket of the potpourri in my home to picked up a couple of items out of that and added it in – but I think Christmas cake decorations or wreath leftovers would work just as well
and there you have it! A Christmas Sensory experience. Just pop on this piece of music and go for it