3. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - 18/12/2017
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.' Luke 2:14
‘Merry Christmas and a happy New Year’ is the most popular greeting that I hear from neighbours, friends, family, in the market place, the high street and in the shops. I really appreciate its sentiment and find it an uplifting reminder of God’s meeting with mankind in the humble birth of Jesus Christ. I do realise that not everyone says it because of the religious connotations but I also know that it’s a heartfelt wish.
We all see the piles of Christmas cards waiting to be written and the last posting date getting ever closer. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a simple ‘to … from’ message, one of caring sentiment or the annual letter of what I, or we, have got up to this year; the meaning is the same. I wonder what the heavenly message would be and have found these references in answer to my question –
The greeting to Joseph was ‘do not be afraid’:
‘But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”’ Matthew 1:20
When the angel appeared to Mary she was troubled and again the message was ‘do not be afraid’:
'But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God."’ Luke 1:30
To Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, the same message was given:
‘But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John."’ Luke 1:13
When the angel appeared to the shepherds on the hillside they were also told not to be afraid:
‘But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”’ Luke 2:10-14
I often find my heart rate quickening when something unusual happens, for instance an unexpected knock at the door. I tend to have a pessimistic view on life so always expect the worst. Very often I find something good is going to happen rather than something to be anxious about. The appearance of the angels must have been terrifying, yet they all brought good news, good news that would have a long-lasting effect on people throughout the ages. Circumstances of life may fill us with fear initially; a surprise pregnancy, bad news, unbearable pain and extreme pressure. These don’t just go away but as the Christmas message percolates through into our hearts and minds, we can find peace for at its centre are those wonderful words, ’Don’t be afraid
2. The juggling act - 11/12/2017
I am reminded of the juggler. How does he keep all the balls moving in such a seemingly unhurried way that not one collides with another? The observer senses an effortless approach which successfully manages what to the onlooker appears to be an impossible challenge. Should the juggler miss one catch, the entire act can become a chaotic scramble as it all disintegrates and falls to the ground. No amount of frantic grabbing and lunging will achieve the perfection he worked for.
What is the theme underpinning our act to make the best Christmas ever? Is it Peace, Joy and Love to all men? Our frantic scrabbling to keep everything going can cause inner tensions which spill out causing fractious situations. The challenge is to choose how many and what kind of jobs we can do at a time and to allow enough rescue time when things fall apart. The Christmas juggling act may be a multi-task one but how about it being multi-people too? Extend the workforce to friends and family and make it fun. A good laugh when things go wrong is a good tension-breaker and pick-me-up. It is up to the juggler to make the act work. Lots of practice, wise choices of juggling material, facilitating words such as 'when', 'how' and 'where' with plenty of flexibility and a goal to always have a good attitude to maximise words such as Peace, Joy, Love and Goodwill.
1. The giver and the receiver - 4/12/2017
This is a true story told to me by a friend as we reminisced about Christmas. An elderly relative of mine received a gift of flowers and a present from a younger member of the family. the elderly person responded with, "I really didn't want this. I didn't expect you to do this." After some debate the young person replied, "You are forgetting the pleasure that I had choosing the gift and the flowers." What a shame that the elderly person missed the heart of the young person's appreciation and thoughtfulness. the good thing is that the young person could share their disappointment at the older person's lack of appreciation.