One of the questions people tend to ask each other at this time of year, as a bit of festive smalltalk, is the classic “Are you ready for Christmas?”.

I remember one Christmas when friends of ours had been very organised and bought all their presents weeks in advance, carefully wrapping them up and labelling them for all their young children. Feeling quite pleased with themselves, they hid the freshly wrapped presents in their loft. Then on Christmas Eve, when the house was asleep they went up to the loft to get the presents down to distribute to their sleeping children. Imagine their panic when they discovered that a mouse had found its way into their loft and had nibbled at all the carefully wrapped Christmas presents! They had to quickly patch up & re-wrap each present, before they were able to carefully deposit into each bedroom hoping the children wouldn’t notice the chewed corners on their present in the excitement of opening them.

People spend months getting ready for this one special day, buying presents for the family, getting enough food to feed an army, laying up the table in preparation, circling all the programmes you want to watch in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times, writing Christmas cards to send to work colleagues especially your boss, buying the perfect Christmas jumper for the staff party, wrapping the presents you bought in October and forgot all about, writing lists to make sure you don’t forget anything else. It can be exhausting! And you still don’t feel ready for Christmas.

We can be so busy getting ready with all the practical things that we feel under pressure to do that we can forget to get ourselves ready. Patrick Regan, who came and spoke at Freedom Church recently, has created his ‘rules for Christmas’ to ensure he stays healthy and ready for the festive season:

The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23, ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’

Don’t panic your way into Christmas, take a seat, make yourself a favourite drink and quietly and gently get your heart ready to celebrate all that is to come.