As we enter into the Advent season and a time that typically feels rushed and chaotic, it is especially important for us to find the time to slow down.  It feels counterintuitive to slow down when the “to do” list is longer than usual. We have more to accomplish, yet we need to become even more intentional about slowing down. If we don’t slow down to remember the reason for the season, it will pass us by in a blur only to be filled with activities that might have nothing to do with Advent and leave us feeling exhausted and empty.  You know – it’s all the things to do and places to be like attending office parties and open houses, making lists, shopping, baking cookies and holiday treats, decorating, wrapping, visiting relatives we may or may not like, sending Christmas cards or letters, cooking big meals for large gatherings, and more. The end of December will arrive, we will be exhausted and in the hubbub of activity we will have once again forgotten the reason for the season.

Believe me, I am not suggesting that you add one more thing to your plate! Instead, I am asking what is one or two things that are on your plate that could come off of your plate?  Maybe it is something you don’t really enjoy or something that you do out of a sense of obligation or tradition.  Is it time to say goodbye?  Perhaps it is something that causes more stress than it’s worth. Is it time for a farewell party? Ready to scrape that duty off your plate forever?

Now that you’ve cleared your plate from some of those time, emotional, and energy suckers, replace them with something meaningful and memorable.  Take time to reflect on the reason for the season – the birth of Jesus.  Have you ever wondered what Joseph might have said when he found out Mary was expecting or those days leading up to the birth of Jesus? Or have you ever considered what the Shepherds or the Wisemen were thinking?  Have you ever paused in this season to reflect on the hope that Christmas brings?

Rachel Gilmore, my coauthor, and I would like to invite you on a sacred journey into The Voices of Christmas: A Daily Devotional for AdventIn this devotional and guide, you will find the four themed weeks of H.O.P.E. (healing, opportunity of love, peace, and joy) heard through the prominent character voices of Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, the Wisemen, and John the Baptist. Journey out on a solo trip or invite some friends to reflect with you on the weekly theme to bring more meaning and hope to this transformational time of the year.

If Advent weren’t enough of a reason to take time for study and reflection, here are a few more reasons for intentionally slowing down and taking time for reflection.  According to Mission to Learn, making reflection a daily habit helps you learn from your mistakes, celebrate your successes, generate new ideas, help others, gives your perspective, and daily reflection helps you relax. Those are some powerful reasons to consider daily reflection time!

Gift yourself the time to slow down, the time for reflection, and the potential for transformation during this Advent season. Reflect on this season of H.O.P.E.  Listen to the Voices of Christmas.