Savor Christ

Today I’m happy to bring you a guest post from Dallas Theological Seminary students Makay Bergthold and Kristen Powell:

If you could uncork a glass bottle of “Christmas,” what delightful scent would greet you? Gingerbread? A fresh-cut Christmas tree? The spices of cinnamon and cloves in hot apple cider simmering on the stovetop? Whatever your Christmas treat of choice, the opportunity to savor smells and tastes that bring pleasure may spark a happy memory that connects you to loved ones or a time in your life when Christmas was simpler or more joyful.

For many adults Christmas no longer brings simple delights, but instead anxieties over expectations, potential family conflict, loneliness, or grief.  While commercials trumpet consumerism and broadcast ideal images of happy families, the reality for many people is that the holiday season reminds them of people they have lost, relationships that have failed to fulfill expectations, and the inability of store-bought items to deliver on the ubiquitous promise of perfect happiness. Many mothers strive to provide a picture-perfect holiday experience and receive in exchange exhaustion nourished by scrolling through social media images of everyone else’s families in matching Christmas pajamas having Insta-worthy moments together.

This year, we invite you to take a moment to inhale deeply of something much more fulfilling and transformative than your standard commercialized holiday fare: savoring Jesus. Oxford Languages provides this definition for the verb ‘savor:’ “taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely.” When we taste of Christ’s goodness and enjoy him fully, he satisfies us amid overwhelming anxieties and replaces our restlessness with peace and joy.

First, we can savor Jesus by reflecting on his presence in our lives through his Spirit. As we approach Christmas, we enter a unique time to meditate on the incarnation, remembering when Christ first condescended to dwell among humanity. The incarnation exemplifies Jesus’s humility in lowering himself to take on a human nature with a human body. In choosing to ‘tabernacle’ among his people (Jn 1:14), he demonstrated the lengths to which he would go to restore humanity’s relationship with God. Reminiscent of God’s presence among the Israelites through the tabernacle, Christ was God’s presence among the first-century Jews. Yet, the incarnation was a mere foretaste of Christ’s continual presence with every believer through his Spirit (Jn 14:23, 25-27). When our anxieties crush us, turning to the Spirit as our Helper frees us from navigating our anxieties on our own. Actively trusting in his nearness in our troubles allows us to transcend the whirlwind of grief, conflict, or battle against comparison.

We also savor him through communion with other believers. Paul encouraged the Ephesians that they were a body with Christ as the head, working together toward “the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). When we invite other trusted believers into our struggles, we tangibly experience God’s love through the encouragement and wisdom of his people. Our anxieties offer an opportunity to bear each other’s burdens and lift us out of our despair. God has placed mature believers in our lives to strengthen us, and we can embrace the gift he has given us in each other.

Finally, we savor him in serving others. In Proverbs we read, “A generous person will be prosperous, and one who gives others plenty of water will himself be given plenty” (11:25). God promises blessing for those who give generously. Although finances and material possessions often come to mind when we think of generosity, we can serve people in many other ways as well. We can give of our time to help someone with a house project, make pesto tortellini and garlic bread for someone in need, or generously use our time and words to counsel \one who needs wisdom and comfort, giving them the same comfort we have received from God (2 Cor 1:4). In serving others, we gain fulfillment and joy as we use the gifts God has given us. Our doing so helps us see beyond ourselves and orient our minds toward God’s greater purpose for our lives.

Savoring Jesus in reflection on the presence of his Spirit, communion with other believers, and service lifts our eyes above our anxieties and raises us to a place of joy. As you enter a busy, lonely, or a stressful Christmas season, look for Jesus. Shift your focus from crafting the perfect Christmas moment and instead embrace the most perfect present: the presence of the Prince of Peace. Choose to savor Christ and the truth that you are the object of his extravagant love. 

Photo by Casey Chae on Unsplash

Sandra Glahn, who holds a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and a PhD in The Humanities—Aesthetic Studies from the University of Texas/Dallas, is a professor at DTS. This creator of the Coffee Cup Bible Series (AMG) based on the NET Bible is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books. She's the wife of one husband, mother of one daughter, and owner of two cats. Chocolate and travel make her smile. You can follow her on Twitter @sandraglahn ; on FB /Aspire2 ; and find her at her web site: aspire2.com.

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