It’s finally Christmas time! Most of us have just a few days left before we head home for break to spend time with family and friends, and celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ! I, for one, am crazy excited.
Before we part, I’m challenging you to a Christmas Tradition Match-athon! Alright, so, here’s the deal: below you’ll find eleven different Favorite Christmas Traditions from eleven different Axiom students. A little farther down, you’ll see a list – in no particular order – of those eleven students. Your job is to figure out whose tradition is whose! When you think you’ve got it, post a comment here with your answers (they should look similar to this: (1-A or 2-Sue, however you’d prefer). If you don’t have a wordpress account yet, it’s super easy to set up, so you should just do it so you have a shot at the prize… That’s right – I said prize! The person who gets the most pairs correct will win a special, secret, prize when we get back from break! Good luck!
Favorite Christmas Tradition:
- On Christmas day, whatever parent starts the fire in the fireplace forgets to open the flue and the smoke alarms go off; if they don’t forget, Mom burns breakfast, and the smoke alarms go off.
- On Christmas Eve morning, my dad drives my family out to the local state park, and makes my siblings and me get out of the car and hike around in the frozen, snowy wilderness.
- I used to go see the Nutcracker Ballet with my mom every year (until I came to college and it’s always the weekend before Finals- ugh).
- My favorite part of Christmas is going to the Christmas Eve service at my church. Most years, we go to the midnight candlelight service, and it is just so majestic and intimate feeling.
- My favorite Christmas tradition is the Christmas Eve service at my home church. At the very end of the program each year we all get a candle and gather in a circle around the sanctuary singing “Silent Night”. I’ll always remember looking to my left and right and seeing the smiling faces of the ones I love. It’s an incredible moment that I really look forward to each year. You can just sense the overwhelming joy for the coming of our King.
- Us kids all sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve, and I play competitive Tetris on the play station all break long.
- Stamping out messages in the snow.
- In my immediate family instead of exchanging gifts, us grown-ups now write a Christmas letter to each other and place it in a stocking with little goodies and treasures. We share memories and thoughts of appreciation and love to one another in thought out meaningful ways. It’s special and unique!
- I put a wreath of lit candles (yes, real candles) on my head and sing carols in Swedish.
- On Christmas day, my extended family all gathers in my Grandparent’s living room around a huge tree, and opens presents together. Afterwards, we have a big Christmas dinner and watch movies; last year, my whole family, even the guys, sat around singing along to Mamma Mia!
- Opening stockings early on Christmas morning with my brothers while watching the Christmas Story.
- My fav tradition is growing a beard of biblical proportions with the men of my family and then shaving them into complete awesomeness also known as a series of mustaches on Christmas day…
A. Ben Woods
B. Mary Baird
C. Justin Neally
D. Rachel Small
F. Sarah Dexter
G. Taylor Pinion
H. Lauren Deppe
I. Derek Walsh
J. Kelly Nygren
K. Rebekah Songer
L. Kayla Campbell
If you were at Axiom this Thursday, then you know what I’m asking; but just in case you have no idea what I mean by “your brick,” I’ll try to give a quick summary of what you missed. Upon arriving at Axiom, we were each handed a brick and told to never let it leave our hands – not while taking off our coats, not while greeting friends, not while worshiping Jesus, not ever. In addition to carrying around this brick, we had to maneuver around luggage scattered throughout the room. Needless to say, everything about those first few minutes of service was awkward. It’s really hard to have a normal conversation while carrying a brick – hugs and handshakes definitely require a bit more thought. It’s even harder to concentrate on praising God while holding on to something as cumbersome and awkwardly shaped as a brick.
By the time worship was over, most of us were a little annoyed at our bricks, and wondering why we had been told to hang on to them. Ben began by explaining that bricks aren’t good for much. They’re rough with sharp edges, they make bumpy roads and poor foundations, and they’re heavier than you’d expect – and the longer you carry one around, the heavier it becomes. In fact, the only thing that bricks are really good for is building walls. He then went on to say that each and every one of us carries around bricks – things that weigh us down, wall us in, and isolate us from other people. Moreover, these bricks can build walls high enough to make it feel like we are even isolated from God. When you have a brick, there are two things you can do with it: you can try to hide it – maybe put in a pocket or under your jacket – or you can showcase it – put it out there for everyone to see. No matter what you choose to do with your brick, as long as you have it, it weighs you down, and it creates distance between you and everyone around you.
Thankfully, through the love and grace of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to carry our bricks around. We can choose to put them down and walk alongside Him instead. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus offers us this amazing opportunity to abandon our bricks, whatever they might be, and live differently, as one who has been freed from bondage. At the end of service, Ben asked us to think about what our personal bricks are – perfectionism, gossip, pride, lust, greed, addiction, etc – and to decide if we were going to keep them with us, or name them (literally write on the bricks with chalk), and set them down.
This message struck me as incredibly timely. The last three weeks of the fall semester are always rough. You get back from Thanksgiving break, well rested, recharged, and ready to go – excited that Christmas break is only a few short weeks away! Then you remember that in the space of those few short weeks you have papers to write, projects to complete, presentations to give, and final exams to study for. All of a sudden, those three weeks don’t seem nearly long enough. Basically, the post-Thanksgiving home stretch is incredibly stressful, and when you’re carrying around an armful of bricks, this is the time in the semester when they seem heaviest. This is also the time in the semester when we are each tempted to retreat into our rooms, or a quiet cubby in the library, and focus solely on ourselves – our problems, our stressors, our to-do lists – to allow ourselves to temporarily disconnect from each other. However, this is also a time in the semester when we need each other most.
As important as it is to stay focused and disciplined in our studies with finals fast approaching, it is equally important to stay connected with our classmates, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even when it would be easier, and almost justifiable, to isolate ourselves, we are still called to care for one another, and to see when others need to be shown love. It may be tricky, complicated, or inconvenient to make time for people right now, but it is necessary. Pray for each other, encourage each other, study together, take breaks together, seek out those who are struggling or hurting, and remind each other that God is so much bigger than final exams.
Most importantly, if you have a brick, or maybe a suitcase full of bricks, getting heavier and heavier each day, don’t keep holding on to it. Offer up your bricks to Jesus. He has given us this incredible invitation to let go of the things that weigh us down, and experience the peace that comes from resting in the Lord. For the remaining two weeks of the semester, I encourage you to make time for Jesus each day – no matter how much studying you have to do, or how many exams you have to take – and to remember that His yoke is easy and his burden light; you can choose to leave your brick behind.