December 2, 2010

Rest Your Soul

Well it is December, and since November 1st Christmas as been in the air in most shopping malls. It seems where ever I go these days I am inundated with holiday cheer. Even my coffee cups have taken on a more festive theme of late. I guess Christmas really is a coming to town.

Now if anyone is waiting for me to have some sort of Christmas rant, I'm not going too. Well that's not true, it's not that I am not going it, it's that I got mine out early. I wanted to make sure I was ahead of the curve.

I more or less have that out of my system, and unless anything changes I think I am good on the whole Christmas ranting.

I know come this time of year I don't need someone ranting about how Christmas ought to be or ought not to be, I need rest. December makes me so tired! Somewhere between the nights coming earlier, the increased pace at church, the shopping, the baking, the decorating and everything else by the time December 24th rolls around I'm beat.

I don't think I am alone in this, I suspect the 'Christmas exhaustions' are pretty common. More than anything we need to take some time, catch our breath and rest.

Rest both for the body and the soul.

Rest for your body in this season is good for you, especially if you want to avoid the flu or worse. But rest for your soul is critical. So critical I would go so far as to say you'll miss the real joy of Christmas if you don't rest. Taking time to rest in God, to allow his peace, comfort, love and joy permeate your very being is needed more in this hectic time than perhaps any other. 

It is easy to forget that this is not just a feel good season, or a time for families to get together, or a time to spur on the economy, or even a season to spread some good will to all humanity. Christmas is most or all of those things, but it is also far more. It is a time to stop and reflect on what God has done for us (individually and collectively) and to look forward to what he will do for us in the future.

If you have not done any before this would be a great time to try a Christian Spiritual Disciplined. If you are not familiar with the term the disciplines are typically ancient practices that are supposed to help us connect with God, to enable the Holy Spirit to transform us into more Christlike people. Think of it as the difference between knowing more about God and getting to know God more, or praying to God and listening to see if God has anything to say in return. 

There are quite a few spiritual disciplines. I have a few favorites, and a few that I dislike but they are all worth doing a number of times to sort out what best works for your spiritual rhythm.

My favorite by far is Lectio Divina or divine reading. It is a practice that invites God to speak to you personally through scripture. What I most enjoy about this is that it forces me to stop, slow down and really seek time with God. And couldn't we all use a little of that right now?

You'll find below instructions on how to do the Lectio Divina. In the next few days I will post a number of others taken from Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us.

Rest up.

This form of prayer invites us to meet God in scripture. It does not use scripture to increase knowledge or to answer a specific question, though that may happen, but it is a place to communion with God. It teaches us to pour over every word of scripture, giving each the utmost importance because God gave us them. This reading seeks to experience God. We come to the scripture trusting that God is near us and that he loves us.


1. Find a passage of scripture to pray with. You should use the passages provided for you. Then find a quite place where you will not be distracted.

 2. Take a moment to rest and relax. Take a deep breath and say a simple prayer to help remind you that God is with you.

3. Read the passage slowly 3 times and see if a word or an idea jumps out at you.

4. Focus on the word or idea that jumped out at you. Make that a prayer and see if any other thoughts, images feelings come to mind.

5. Pray whatever comes to mind. It might be something you are sad about or something you are excited about or you may even think of someone else you want to pray for. Pray for anything and everything that comes to mind.

6. After you are done praying take a minute to stay quiet and know that God heard you.

7. Once you are done being quiet write 2-3 paragraphs about what you felt, and try to write down some of what you prayed for.