Posts Tagged ‘Luke 2:10-11’

It seems to me that Christmas taps into some deep emotions in us all, one way or another. Some look forward to it and love what it signifies. Some revel in all the trappings it involves. Some find the extra shopping and planning for it irksome and are glad when it’s all over. Some find it a sad and difficult time which reminds them too much of losses in their lives and relationships that are no longer there. And some hate it with a passion and are not backward in letting others know how they feel.

While shopping recently, I overheard two grumpy, old men talking to each other in terms that could only be described as distinctly Scrooge-like:

‘Why do we have to listen to all this stupid Christmas music playing?’ one commented loudly, as they stomped along the cramped aisles of a two dollar shop. ‘It’s so annoying! Why do we have to have all this Christmas stuff everywhere anyway? It’s a joke!’

Their comments made me feel a little sad. Yet, to some degree, I understand where they’re coming from. I too am a little averse to crowded shops, tired people frantically grabbing this and that in the supermarket and inane Christmas music that has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas blaring out as I try to think what to buy. But don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. And that’s probably why the empty hype and insane busyness that characterise this time of year disturb me so much. I don’t want my Christmas spoilt or distorted by someone else’s idea of what Christmas should be about. But I do want to celebrate Christmas in a deep, joyous and meaningful way.

So how can I stay in that place of peace and joy as I prepare for Christmas and look towards celebrating Jesus’ birth in an authentic way? I think a key is learning the art of mindfulness, a concept that has been around for a long time but is not all that often put into practice in our busy lives. Mindfulness involves intentionally stopping and being aware of who we are and where we are in the present moment. It involves focussing in on what is real and important, recollecting why it is and then retaining that in our mind as we move through our day. So, rather than being swept along by the anxieties of finding the right Christmas gift for someone or of all the cooking that needs to be done, I can discipline myself to stop and be still for a moment, to become aware of God’s Spirit within me and around me, to remember the amazing gift of our Saviour Jesus, given to us that first Christmas day. I allow that thought to fill my mind, replacing all the worries and cares and distractions and pushing them to the periphery. Then I can move forward, undertaking all those time consuming but special Christmas activities with great thankfulness and a deep joy in my heart.

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

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In case you haven’t heard, we have an adorable grandson who is almost one year old. He has plenty of toys, but what does he want to play with when he comes to our place? Well—anything that isn’t a toy, to put it succinctly!

P1030687Whenever he visits us, our Zain is adept at sizing up all sorts of objects in our lounge room that might be interesting to play with. Our home phone, placed on a low table within easy reach of little hands, is quite a drawcard. If we are in the room, he looks over at us, grins, reaches out and pauses, hand in mid-air, before actually touching the phone. He doesn’t usually pick it up—that can wait until we aren’t looking, at which point he makes a beeline for this precious object.

Then there is the array of remote controls on another low table. Whenever Zain arrives, we remove all these interesting objects to higher ground. And of course there are his grandfather’s puzzle books and computer magazines within easy reach too. What fun!

Our kitchen also provides endless possibilities for exploring and getting into mischief. Take the rubbish bin, for starters. Often Zain heads straight for it and proceeds to lift the lid and peer curiously inside. The empty bottles beside our fridge for recycling are great to knock over and roll around the floor. But most fascinating of all are those round, brown knobs on the cupboards and drawers—just the right size for our Zain to put his hands around and pull open. And then—well, a whole new realm of possibilities opens up in an instant!

We do have an actual toy basket with all sorts of interesting things in it for him to play with—but time and time again, he chooses—wait for it—two recycled plastic bottles, one containing uncooked rice grains and the other, macaroni. As he shakes them, he looks up at us with a smile of sheer delight on his face—and we instantly melt!

I have learnt all over again from our Zain that it’s the simple things in life that matter. Why buy those expensive, complicated toys? Why not just go back to basics and think of things that make interesting noises or open and shut or old household items like remote controls or phones?

This is the same lesson God teaches me over and over each Christmas, as we set up our little nativity scene in our lounge, read our Christmas cards that feature the manger scene, wise men and shepherds, sing those Christmas carols and reflect on the birth of a special child, God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This is the bottom line in life, don’t you think? It’s about getting back to basics—to what really matters. It’s about accepting God’s gift of a Saviour. It’s about keeping the main message of Christmas at the very centre of our lives. It’s about not making things too complicated but rather resting in the simple truth that God loves us and accepts us totally because of Jesus—that tiny baby in a manger, sent from heaven, born to be King, born to reign forever and ever.

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10b-11)

God bless you all this Christmas and throughout 2013!

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