The December practice for New Hope is to notice where the work, will, and presence of God "appear" throughout the day. For that reason, this post (and its follow-up) will be mirrored in the Everyday Spirituality:5x5 blog, which specializes in helping people recognize and respond to God in everyday life.
In my last post, I outlined a playful way to do the serious work of noticing where and how Christ appears in our everyday lives. If Christmas is just a way to commemorate a particular day 2,000 years ago, it quickly becomes little more than sentiment and nostalgia. The unfinished business of Christmas is to let the birth of Christ continue to work in and through our lives. Our lives become the way "the Word" (John 1:1, 14) is made flesh today.
Our practice for December is to notice and celebrate all the ways Christ appears in the lives around us. I chose to make it a daily game of "Where's Jesus?" and it has three parts:
- Recall the various traits and characteristics of Jesus
- Notice and celebrate how those traits are 'made flesh' in the lives of people around you. This is an activity that can be done with family, friends, or in your LIFE Groups.
This is a powerful practice. Try it for a week and watch what happens to the way you go through your day. This leads me to the third step and it has the power to change your world ...
3. Let that person know what you saw. Whether by card, Email, or in person, tell the person which characteristics or traits of Christ you experienced.
Here is Why This is So Powerful
- It is a tangible way of expressing gratitude (one of the Essential Habits for flourishing souls.)
- It will bless the person you recognize. It is likely that your appreciation will surprise the other person because they won't see what they did as anything all that special. But it was, and you should let them know. Watch what happens when you do. You will encourage them in ways that make it more likely they will continue to do what they do because they know it can make a difference.
- Watch what happens to you, too. When you write or tell someone what you saw, you will begin to see more and more examples of the life of Christ appearing all around you. More than just a set of tasks to get through, life becomes more and more an invitation to participate in the vibrant life and work of Christ.
- There will be ripples. Your actions would be enough if the appreciation ended there. It won't. Your actions will trigger others to do the same. Imagine the effects when not only you but all those around you begin to see experience and appreciate the ways Christ is appearing in the lives of those around you. Imagine the exponential ways people will be encouraged and blessed. What would happen if you continued this practice for the rest of the month?
I Know, Email is Boring. I Can Help!
Let's face it. Email is fast but boring. That is why I created a template you can use. Consider it as Christmas Stationery that can be downloaded, cut, and pasted into your Email. There is a place for the person's name as well as yours. There are opening and closing graphics. Most importantly, there is a place for you to be specific in your appreciation of how you experienced Christ in their actions. Tell them what you saw and how it blessed your life, then send it. If it seems appropriate, feel free to"copy" it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'd love to share in your celebration and look forward to seeing the cumulative effects of this practice.
Can you create your own Email? Of course, you can! Please do! If it seems good, send it to me (it will work best as a .doc file) and I'll share it with others. Wouldn't it be amazing to create a whole set of "stationery" templates that people can use?
In Christ, the Word was "made flesh." Through Christ, that work continues. It is the unfinished work of Christmas. In the noticing, celebrating, and appreciation of Christ's work, we affirm this basic truth: The most important candle you will light this Advent...is you.