Christmas is the one time of the year I put decorations up inside and outside of my house. I enjoy decorating: stockings hung, fragrant evergreen wreaths adorn the door, Christmas dishes on the table, a lit Christmas tree in my front room is so bright that it can be seen from the street corner, red and green towels in the bathroom, and I even have a Christmas sweater for my dog. The reason I decorate every room in my house is the great joy I get from hosting parties for my friends and family.
Last December, every week in the Grand Rapids building was packed full with Christmas parties, musical guests in the atrium, and decorating contests. While not in the office, I attended church worship events, school programs, family gatherings, and many events in my own home. But not this year. My house is decorated, but no one will see it. My December schedule is bare and any planned gatherings will be done online. The COVID-19 pandemic keeps me home and isolated from my friends and family.
I can’t remember a December that felt so empty, but rather than dwelling on the isolation I am choosing to rest in the peace and quiet. In doing so, I’m following Jesus’ lead. Praying alone and being silent was central to Jesus’ life—there are nearly 20 examples of this in the Bible! I’d like to share just a few of them so that we can learn from his example:
Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
Matthew 14:23: “After [Jesus] had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone...”
Mark 6:31-32: “Then, because so many people were coming and going that [the disciples] did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”
Mark 14:32: “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’”
And while my heart longs to host a big boisterous party, I’m doing my best to learn to love the silence. I sit and gaze at the bright white lights of my decorated Christmas tree and reflect on the gift of Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12). I savor the solitude as it gives me the needed focus and attention to pray for others. The stillness of this unique Christmastime reminds me of God’s command found in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
May you have the strength to be still, find joy in solitude, and peace in the silence as you lift up others in prayer.
If you or someone you love is looking for ways to experience that peace, one resource that I'd like to share with you is Blue Christmas. At ReFrame Media, we've gathered this set of 14 encouraging Today devotions into a free ebook to reassure you that even during the darkest of Christmas seasons, you’re not alone.