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This is the 11th in a series of daily Advent reflections based on the Daily and Sunday Eucharist readings. To see the other posts in this series click on the Advent Reflections link above, or in the right-hand sidebar under categories.

Sunsets always amaze me and bring me a sense of peace

Another day ends in Vallarta

Another day ends in Vallarta

Sea, Mountains, Sunset, Peace

Sea, Mountains, Sunset, Peace

Another Vallarta Sunset

Another Vallarta Sunset

A soft Sunset at Hillside Beach, Manitoba

A soft Sunset at Hillside Beach, Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba

I thought I would add a few shots of Hillside Beach, where Susan and I go to find quiet. At the lake we make time to reflect.  We find rest for our souls as we remember our place in God’s creation.

Peaceful times at Hillside, don't scare the deer away

Peaceful times at Hillside, don’t scare the deer away

The peaceful lagoon, Hillside Beach

The stillness of the peaceful lagoon at Hillside Beach

A quiet walk along the shore of Lake Winnipeg

A quiet walk along the shore of Lake Winnipeg

Now the reading and reflection.

Today’s reading is Matthew 11:28-30.  It’s another short reading so I have reproduced the text below.  Thanks to Oremus Bible Browser (oremus.bible.org) for their wonderful on-line Bible service.

Matthew 11:28-30

 Jesus Said 28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

What a perfect time to hear these words of Jesus, in the middle of all the frantic rushing around preparing for Christmas.  With all the expectations we are trying to fulfill.  It’s too bad that these wonderful seasons – Advent and Christmas – should become such a burden.  Mum’s and Dad’s anxious about meeting all the family obligations, trying to make things wonderful for their children; all the preparation, worries about budgets, pressures from work.  And these days the move to more shopping days and hours and with businesses providing shorter periods of holidays for Christmas creates the added anxieties of trying to get the whole family together at one time.  So much hurrying, so much worrying, so much stress.

“come to me all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, I will give you rest…you will find rest for your souls”.

Jesus spoke these words for much more than just Christmas anxiety, they are about our whole lives and turning them over to Jesus and discovering the peace that comes with trusting in God; knowing that Jesus is “gentle and humble in heart”

But, how appropriate for right now, for today, this very moment when we are just 12 days away from Christmas. We used to say ‘so many shopping days to Christmas’. There is no longer any difference between actual days and shopping days; there is no down-time; there are no common rest days anymore.  Still, I guess it makes the math easier! This, for me, isn’t about religious rights or rites, it’s about the ancient realization that everyone needs sabbath time, families need times when they can be together.  I fear, for most of us, that may be lost forever, and its a tragedy.

So listen to Jesus, STOP! SIT DOWN… RELAX… BREATHE………. lay your burden at his feet. Just take back some time to think about the wonders of this world, the beauty around us, the gift of family; and do something counter-cultural – read and reflect on scripture.  Pray for calm.  Pray that you will take times for yourself to be quiet and restful during Advent.  Pray for a blessed and joyful Christmas.  Give thanks.  Some of my favourite words from the Bible are “Be still, and know that I am God”. I pray you will find some stillness this Advent.