Memories of Christmases past and hopes for Christmases to come; at this time of the year they fill our hearts and minds. What wonderful gifts -- memory, hope, and eager expectation! Who can forget what looking forward to Christmas was like as a child?
The sights, the sounds, the smells, and, yes, the tastes! These memories become linked to those of the frantic pace of preparations followed by long leisurely hours of enjoying family and friends. Even the busiest of people find the time to do it all -- somehow, managing to catch a little glimpse of “Peace on Earth.” What a miracle!
We all have mental pictures of what Christmas ‘used to be like’ -- or what it’s ‘supposed to be like’. Many are blessed with memories of happy voices, smiling faces, and sharing good times. For others, a few ‘ghosts of Christmas past’ may linger that recall tensions, quarrels, and substance abuse. For some, even the happy memories are tinged with sadness because of the absence of a loved one. We expect that we can create a Christmas Card perfect time for our family -- or maybe we just wish we could. This can put a lot of pressure on those we love and ourselves.
Why not just relax a little? Take a deep breath and remember what this fuss is really all about. It’s not about the stuff we do -- as fun and important as that can be for us. It is about a little Baby coming into this world to change it forever and finding no room at the inn. Everyone was frantically busy trying to get to town to pay their taxes before the deadline, rushing to get a room, and get something to eat. For the local tourist operators it was a longed-for opportunity to post the No Vacancy signs. Sound familiar?
All our busy-ness can cost us. In our households and our lives we come dangerously close to throwing The Baby out with the tinsel and wrapping paper. One of the happiest Christmas dinners I can remember was eaten off of paper plates in our pyjamas at 10 pm after we had lost track of keeping time because we stopped to enjoy friends and our children. This break in the busy-ness came after participating in four (or was it five?) church services in a little over 12 hours. For an afternoon we let our hold on time go and let God’s peacefulness fill our hearts and our hours. It was liberating! This happened because our time became Jesus’ time, by spending time with Him and loving each other as He calls us to.
This is not just a recipe for a “Merry Christmas” -- but for a happy, peaceful life.
He stands at the door of our hearts, still asking to be let in. If we answer with grateful, heartfelt simplicity, He pretty much does the rest. Do you want Peace on Earth? in your home? in your heart? Listen for that knocking. You already know the answer to, “Who’s there?” He’s waiting for your answer. “Is there room at your inn?”
Have a peaceful and joyous Christmas, enfolded in Christ’s loving embrace!
& Your friends and neighbours,
The Anglican Parish of Gagetown