Bishop Teresa Snorton,
Chrisitan Methodist Episcopal District
"An Essential Church: Poised for the 21st Century"
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Bishop's Monthly Meditation
December 2013 Meditation
By Bishop Teresa Snorton
“He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1: 17)
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. In the Christian calendar we refer to this season as ADVENT, a season of preparation for the coming birth of Jesus. I was first introduced to Advent when I was in seminary in the early 1980s. When I pastored my first church, I was excited to introduce my congregation to all that I had learned about Advent. In doing so, I moved the cross from the Lord’s Table and replaced it with the Advent wreath. Some of the members were horrified that I would move the cross! They felt that it had been moved from its sacred place. I attempted to explain the significance of the Advent wreath as a precursor to the cross as a symbol of our Christian heritage, but eventually I put the cross back in its place and put the wreath on a side table near the altar.
This experience reminds me of how difficult it can be for us to embrace change in the church, but more importantly, it emphasizes how we can be guilty of wanting to skip the important preparations for spiritual renewal and revival. There would be no cross without Christmas. Advent reminds us that God made extensive preparations for the coming of the Christ Child who would eventually give his life for us. The appearance of the angels to Zachariah, to Mary and to Joseph, Mary’s visit with her cousin Elizabeth as they both awaited the birth of their sons, and the birth and ministry of John the Baptist, are all stories recorded in Luke 1 about the way God prepared the hearts and minds of humankind for the gift he was about to send.
As we rush around with all kinds of activities this holiday season, let us not forget to make the necessary preparation in our hearts and minds for this gift – a savior who died on a cross, but also a savior who came as a baby and lived among us, showing us how to become more loving, more accepting, more forgiving, and more giving in our own lives.
The Advent wreath invites us to infuse our spirits with HOPE, LOVE, PEACE and JOY, so that we can receive God’s gift with gratitude and humility. Yes, the cross is a sacred symbol of our faith, but there would not be a cross without Christmas! And Advent is a time to prepare us for all the wonder, awe and majesty of God’s love for humanity!
TEN TIPS FOR COPING WITH HOLIDAY STRESS
(Reprinted from http://mentalhealth.about.com/od/familyresources/a/hoildaysichel.htm)
We all look forward to the holidays and hope that they will be a time of happiness, friendliness, fellowship, and harmony. Yet often our anticipation and excitement turns into feelings of depression and/or family disharmony.
Part of what happens in the holiday season, in terms of mood changes and anxiety, may occur because of the stressfulness of holiday events. It may also be caused by overdrinking, overeating, and fatigue. The demands of the season are many: shopping, cooking, and travel house guests, family reunions, parties, office parties, and extra financial burden.
Sometimes people who are not generally depressed actually struggle with holiday depression. Symptoms can include headaches, insomnia, uneasiness, anxiety, sadness, intestinal problems, and unnecessary conflict with family and friends. Here are some tools to get through the holiday season happily....as well as ways to prevent problems and misery for yourself and your loved ones:
1. Have an attitude of gratitude. Misery and gratitude cannot occupy the same space in our psychological house, and we have the power to choose between these emotional states.
2. One golden rule to getting along with family....be responsible for how you behave, You certainly have no control over how your relatives behave. The most important part of avoiding holiday stress with our families is for each of us to feel mastery over, & satisfaction with, our own behaviors, attitudes & feelings. If you know in your head and your heart that you've acted like the best parent, child, brother, sister, friend that you know how to be, you can walk away from any difficulty feeling good about yourself.
3. If you're feeling depressed and lonely, volunteer with any number of groups that help underprivileged or hospitalized children, the homeless, or the aged and disabled at the holidays. There are many, many opportunities for doing community service. No one can be depressed when they are doing community service.
4. Decide upon your priorities and stick to them. Organize your time. Be reasonable with your schedule. Do not overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion--this makes people cranky, irritable, and depressed.
5. Remember, no matter what your plans, the holidays do not automatically take away feelings of aloneness, sadness, frustration, anger, and fear.
6. Be careful about resentments related to holidays past. Declare an amnesty with whichever family member or friend you are feeling past resentments. Do not feel it is helpful or intimate to tell your relative every resentment on your long laundry list of grievances. Don't let your relative do that to you, either.
7. Don't expect the holidays to be just as they were when you were a child. They NEVER are. YOU are not the same as when you were a child, and no one else in the family is either. On the other hand, if your memories of childhood holidays are awful, be grateful that you now have the capacity and skills to make them wonderful for yourself and those you love.
8. Plan unstructured, low-cost fun holiday activities: window-shop and look at the Holiday decorations. Look at people's Christmas lighting on their homes, take a trip to the countryside, etc.--the opportunities are endless.
9. Do not let the holidays become a reason for over-indulging in food and drink and create unnecessary weight gain and hangovers for yourself. This will exacerbate your depression and anxiety. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is a depressant.
10. Give yourself a break; create time for yourself to do the things YOU and YOUR FAMILY love to do.
If you keep only one thing in mind to combat the holiday blues, make it be to remember: The choice is always yours: The sky is partly sunny, and the glass is half full, if you want it to be that way. Depression is usually a clinical disorder, but sometimes "the blues" confront all of us, particularly at holiday time. It may be caused by the memory of loss, feelings of disappointment, or just being run down from parties, overeating, and drinking. But for many of us, holiday depression can be a choice we, in effect, choose to make. If we choose not to make this choice, we can choose instead to focus on the partly sunny skies and revel in our gratitude for our bounty, health, hope, and our courage to face each day with hope and determination.
Bishop Teresa Snorton,
Telephone : 205-929-1145
4901 Lloyd Noland Parkway
Fairfield, AL 35064
P. O. Box 13383, Birmingham, AL 35202
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