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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas celebrations’

I wonder if any of you tend to feel a little low at this time of year, despite all those lovely Christmas celebrations and gatherings with family and friends. This is something I have often experienced, especially if my year has been particularly busy or particularly draining in some way.

I remember how my special ‘soul friend’ Joy used to encourage me at such times to listen to my body and take note of what it was telling me. Perhaps I needed physical rest. Perhaps mental relaxation. Perhaps a lifting of emotional burdens—those I carried for others as well as my own. Perhaps I needed spiritual refreshment. Or perhaps it was all of the above. Some of us keep going, don’t we, always tackling that next job or seeing things we feel we should do? No wonder we can end up a little exhausted and spent as our year draws to a close.

So, each year around this time, I try to step back a little and view my year past from a distance, so to speak. Yes, there were those many things I could have done better. And yes, there were those opportunities I did not fully grasp or take up at all, for some reason. Yet there were also those times when I did listen and do what I sensed God was calling me to do. There were those many rewarding moments when I spoke somewhere and sensed God used me in the process, when I completed writing or editing a manuscript after much effort, when I wrote blogs that touched others, when I was able to bless others by serving them in some way. What a relief, however, to know God longs to reach out to me with forgiveness and compassion, despite those apparent failures of mine, and also delights to celebrate and rejoice with me in my successes and achievements!

Whatever has happened this past year then, I can be at peace. And I can stay in that place of peace too as I step into whatever God has for me in the new year. After all, God’s heart in sending Jesus Christ to us was indeed to give us deep peace, not only in our lives here and now but also concerning the life to come. In Zechariah’s song in Luke 1:76-79, we see that John the Baptist’s role was to prepare the way for Jesus through calling the people to repent and receive God’s mercy—that mercy that would culminate in sending Jesus, the ‘rising sun’ to us from heaven:

 … to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Then there are also the angels’ wonderful words of declaration to the shepherds, speaking out hope and peace for us all:

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 2:14

As we contemplate the year that has passed then, may we each sense God’s favour and peace deep in our hearts. And in the new year to come, may our feet easily find that path of peace God has for each one of us to take.

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IMG_20181206_130821659I have decided I am a little technically challenged. First off, it was my almost failed recent effort at putting some train tracks together for our youngest granddaughter. But then came the challenge of assembling those free little cardboard cut-out Christmas images from a well-known supermarket chain for her! Somehow, I managed to put the snowman and the gingerbread house together. Then I tackled the tiny Santa sleigh, complete with its little striped cardboard gifts and strange-looking Christmas stocking. Hopefully the checkout person will have run out of such things next time I shop!

Maxine then decided these works of art would look good on our window ledge, so our neighbours could admire them. She arranged them neatly in a row, but then disappeared. I wondered where she was, but then spied her hiding under our lounge and holding something in her hand.

‘Oh, there you are!’ I said to her. ‘Are you okay?’

‘Yes, but I broke this!’

She held up the little sleigh I had created, now slightly squished—and minus the little cardboard gifts we had positioned in it.

‘Oh, don’t worry!’ I told her. ‘I can fix it. But where are the little gifts?’

I thought they were probably lost somewhere, but Maxine immediately pointed to the manger scene we had placed on a nearby table together on another day. On that occasion, when I had asked her to help me, she had clapped her hands and responded:

‘Oh yes—I love the baby Jesus!’

Now I saw she had carefully put that little cardboard cut-out stocking right in the baby Jesus’ hands and strategically placed the two striped gift boxes near Joseph and Mary, along with the snowman’s little pencil and Christmas gift wish list! My first instinct was to move them and put them back on the window ledge. After all, they did not really belong in our manger scene. But then I noticed Maxine’s trusting look and her matter-of-fact manner, which seemed to say to me, ‘Of course the gifts should be near the baby Jesus! It’s the natural place for them to be, isn’t it?’ So who was I to argue?

Later, as I gazed at our manger scene again, complete with Maxine’s additions, I sensed God pointing out to me what a simple yet profound thing Maxine had done. She had wanted to bring gifts to the baby Jesus—it was her own little way of honouring him. So this Christmas, how was I planning to honour Jesus? In the midst of buying for others, what gifts was I intending to offer him? Should it be more giving to those in real need, both here in our own country and overseas? Should it take the form of extra financial support for friends sharing Jesus with others? Should it be offering more of my time to help others? Or should it be something as simple as giving Jesus more space in my life each day to listen to him—and do what he says?

What will your gift to Jesus be this Christmas?

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

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This a special time for our daughter and son-in-law. They are expecting their first child on 14th January—only a couple of weeks away now. Of course they are very excited—and so are we! In preparation for this baby’s arrival, our daughter Tina has set up their nursery beautifully. But they have not had to buy a great deal themselves. You see, Tina is a beauty therapist and has been working at the same salon for over seven years now. She has many regular clients, several of whom come in each week for some treatment or other. And these clients are so delighted about her baby and so sad she is leaving that they have gone out of their way to give her the most beautiful and expensive baby gifts. Perhaps you can understand what sort of gifts I mean a little more if I mention that this salon is in a very well off area of Sydney’s North Shore. So now she has beautiful, little baby suits with French labels on them, made out of lovely, soft fabric and so well designed—not to mention fine quality cot sheets and blankets and cute baby toys. But beyond all that even, one client has passed onto her their ‘old’ nursery furniture—a large cot, a matching chest of drawers and a change table. This furniture hardly looks used and is again if the finest quality—we estimate it would cost well over a thousand dollars.

So much excitement. So much preparation. So much delight shown by clients, friends and family members alike in giving our Tina and Kofi these beautiful gifts. This baby will surely be much loved and also very well dressed and well provided for.

All of which has made me think at this special time of year. We have just celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Yes, his arrival had long been anticipated by the Jews as they waited for the coming of their Messiah. And Joseph and Mary must surely have been waiting in awe to see this baby entrusted to them, this one born of the Holy Spirit who was to be the Saviour of the world. But when he did arrive, there was no beautiful, white cot waiting for him or chest of drawers for all his clothes. Instead, this baby was born in a stable and put to bed in a feeding trough. Yes, wise men did come from a long way off to worship him and give him expensive gifts, but before he was too much older, he became a refugee, along with his parents, and had to flee to Egypt, since his life was under threat. I doubt Mary had time to gather many clothes together for this trip or the ability to carry things like change tables.

And later, after this baby had grown up, he found himself despised and rejected by the very people who had anticipated for so long the arrival of their Messiah. Just as there had been no physical room for the Christ child anywhere other than a stable at his birth, so people had no room in their hearts for Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Have you made room in your hearts this Christmas for Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High? Have I? Or has he again been pushed to the perimeter, perhaps almost cast aside in the midst of all the exciting presents and fine food?

I hope and pray he hasn’t. I hope he sees in my heart more joy at his coming even that the joy with which we will welcome our new grandchild so very soon.

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