The Christmas story, as handed down from one generation to another, has little to do with biblical truths, we found at a recent Bible study. Hey ho – so the lovely picture of Mary sewing quietly at home, when the angel came to her, has little to do with the Bible and much to do with artistic licence; the shepherds may not have brought a lamb, and there is no evidence that there were 3 kings or a ‘little donkey’. As for ‘no room at the inn’ – all those years I had the impression that Jesus was rejected at birth as well as at the end of his life, it was based on an idea formed erroneously – Bethlehem was just Full, so a stable was probably a pretty good place to be – poor but honest, so to speak!
My Christmas has just had the lid taken off it – every year I have an increasing desire to cut through all the tinsel to the real meaning of the celebration. This year, particularly, I have had an image of boat loads of frippery travelling, like the kings. from ‘Eastern Lands Afar’ – we no longer seem to be celebrating the birth of our Saviour, but engaging in a ‘let’s celebrate Chinese exports-fest’! (Not that I have anything against China – but I do wonder about the carbon footprint of all of this!)
Our crib – in the front garden (photo coming once Mary has been mended and the lights un-scrambled – hopefully later today) is very locally-sourced. The hazel twigs from which the figures are made, were grown in our garden. Everything else is recycled – apart from the scrambled fairy lights – my nod to China and my lapse in the carbon footprint war.
This year I really want to add something to the crib. The word is HOPE. As our world hurtles towards an uncertain future, as we deal with ever increasing complexity in our ‘developed world-ly lives’, as bad news overlays bad news, as politicians squabble and confuse us, as we are exhorted to do our bit to save the planet – but it is made increasingly difficult for us to make the choices that will do this – as all these things weigh us down in chains…… the message of Christmas, inextricably linked with the message of Easter (you can’t have one without the other) cuts through everything with a rescue plan. All we need to do is open our eyes to God and receive the overwhelming peace and joy of the miracle of Jesus – who is standing quietly outside the door, waiting for a break in the tv schedule. so that we will hear his gentle knock upon the door and go to open it and ask him in.
My dear dear sister is right now in hospital recovering from major emergency surgery. All her Christmas plans are on hold – she is likely to spend Christmas in hospital. My Christmas plans are under review as I seek to fit in a flying visit to see her. My family are about to learn how to make mince pies and Christmas cake!
When faced with ‘life and death’ situations, one becomes very focused.
Let’s make this Christmas different. Mend a relationship. Give love and care – not expensive bribes. Sort your life out – stop putting things off. Simplify. Search for the real meaning of the festival – the Reason for the Season – you could try reading about it in Luke. Amaze the Christians in your local Church by turning up for a service and, instead of complimenting them on the decorations or the mince pies and mulled wine, ask one or two of them what Jesus means to them. Hey, maybe we’ll make this a better world – or maybe we’ll prepare ourselves better for the next one!
In case I don’t get back to this before 25th – have a special Christmas. And may God truly bless you.
‘God so loved the world….. that He sent Jesus…..’ Thanks for the Christmas Present.