By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
DURING Christmas and New Year’s, people are consumed with hectic schedules and last minute shopping here and there. Some wonder, with all that is going on surrounding the season, how can one stay focused and keep the faith?
Tribune Religion posed the question to a number of Bahamians, how can Christians remain focused on God this season, without getting side-tracked by the pressures of parties, spending and materialism.
Sharing her views, Rev Angela Palacious listed twelve ways to focus on faith. One of her suggestions is to encourage persons to set a special time aside during each day to do devotion, bible reading and study, prayer, and other spiritual reading.
She said people should keep a journal to write their thoughts, ideas, feelings, questions, prayers and answers to prayers, goals and dreams for the future. As well as strategize about how to shift priorities to put God and things pleasing to God first.
“People should plan a worship schedule from early to ensure that no invitation competes with a service or spiritual programme. They should prepare for Christmas slowly and sufficiently in advance to be able to keep Christ at the centre of the season,” said Rev Palacious.
Give to those who are not able to give anything in return, and scale back on the expense of all other gifts so that no debts are incurred, no household bills are neglected and there are no regrets in January, said Rev Palacious. She added that gifts may be given to local charities in the names of adult family and friends notifying them that no personal gift, or a very small one, will be given individually.
For Father Chester Burton, Rector of St Peter’s Anglican Church, he takes joy in advising people that one of the primary things to do is go to church often and keep the advent holy.
“Life is so short and an example would be the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. People are dying young and old, so we also want to do things that keeps God close to us. We have to do things like read our bible this season,” said Father Burton.
He said people have to simplify the whole concept of going out and shopping. Father Burton explained that Bahamians become so focused on shopping, and not really the real meaning of the season, which is focusing on God, advent and the church.
“When we talk about advent, we talk about being ready for the coming of Jesus. And this comes with praying and listening to his word,” said Father Burton.
According to crosswalk.com, a Christian living resources website, the reality for many people is that they become “emotionally stressed out, financially maxed out and physically burned out trying to keep it all together during this time of the year”.
The website states, if the holidays are about faith, family and food feats, then why do people struggle the most with staying spiritual during these times.
“Day after day, we become burned out and stressed out and now, our faith becomes affected as we start questioning God, “Are You hearing me?” and “Why won’t You help me?” Like Eve in the garden, we question God’s goodness and his basic command.
To stay spiritually-minded during the holidays, we need to keep our eyes focused on the Lord and include him in our thoughts. Instead of talking to ourselves, we need to start talking to him and then give him the time to talk back. The enemy will use every scheme he can against us to distract us from maintaining a walk with the Lord,” the website noted.
Rev Palacious added that persons should also be generous, and hold on to their Christmas spirit all year long. She said when being overwhelmed with all that is going on, make up your mind to determine how many parties you can attend without neglecting God or family. She said to stay for a reasonable period of time, eat and drink in moderation, because gluttony is a sin even at Christmas.
“Make a family Advent calendar with pictures and scriptures to give counting of the days a more spiritual base. Watch religious movies and other seasonal programs, use some religious decorations, for example; an Advent wreath, nativity scenes, angels, in each room. Also, place a nativity scene in your garden that can be seen from the road,” said Rev Palacious.