It’s there, crashing down on us from all angles. Relatively recently, we can relate to the pressure of the holiday season. A time when we’re stretched thin, dashing from here to there, trying to fit every person and event into our already hectic schedule.

I realize this entry will be posted well beyond the holiday season, but I have a deadline and this is fresh in my mind. I also have a 500 word limit. More pressure. With that, cue the music....

For me personally, this past holiday season was extra chaotic. I know, yours was, too....but allow me to utilize my virtual soapbox for a bit. Three little ones now upright, a lost family member, and the usual hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, right past Christmas, and into a new year....all while juggling the standard (medicine) balls of home and work. Sound familiar? Weekends were packed with travel and get-togethers, making little time for one thing we enjoy and need most: church services and fellowship.

I prayed. I prayed for my family and friends. I prayed for composure and sanity.

I was blessed with clarity.

Sure, like everybody else we were caught in a festive-infused frenzy, potentially growing or feeling distant from God. Everywhere we look, a distorted image of Christmas distracts us from the event, and ultimately significance, of Christ’s birth. Rather than retrain our focus, we remember our daughter wanted that specific Sofia the First bag, or 19 people are about to overthrow our innocent (and at the moment clean) abode for a ‘quick and quiet’ dinner. And so we pick up the to-do list, dig our heels in, and press on.

There we were, in my home, ready for dinner on Christmas Day. So much time was spent on cooking, preparation, naps, and playing, I lost the opportunity to do what I practiced: the pre-meal prayer with family. A deep regret set in instantly, despite the smiles, laughter, and conversation taking place around me.

But, here’s the thing: God drives us to form community and initiate fellowship. Coordinating a schedule around church services isn’t the issue. Including God in our activities is. We are encouraged to serve, and guess what? Serving can happen within the home and family. A simple change in mindset allows this natural and gratifying evolution to transpire. (Pretending to be asleep to temporarily avoid) playing princess tea party an eighth time with your daughter is serving. Allowing four generations to interact is serving. Long car rides with your family to visit loved ones is serving. Giving Great Aunt Greta’s rock-hard fruit cake one more (albeit unnecessary and likely undeserving) chance is serving. Speeding up to get there, and slowing down once there, is serving. Spending and appreciating time with others is serving. And this time spent and memories built, together, are credited to one thing: Christ’s birth. Ahhh....there it is.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father. Empower us to relieve our own, self-inflicted pressure. Encourage us to make time for family, friends, and strangers alike. Remind us that Your Church is not bound by walls and pews. Inspire us to love, and to create opportunities to be loved. Remind us that loving is serving, serving is obeying, and obeying is loving You. Accept our invitation, God, so we may witness Your presence.

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Steve Row-bio-ttom

Steve Rowbottom is the happy husband of Melissa, who live together in toddler-tantrum-infused harmony with their three children - Kaylee, Mason, and Lily – in Palmer Township. Steve has worked for the corporate division of Cigars International for 13 years, much to the delight of many men at FPC Bethlehem....especially those at Lake Champion. Steve has been a member of FPC Bethlehem since 2005.