Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Greeting

A Christmas Greeting

Christmas is such a wonderful time to remember and to celebrate…especially, of course, the Birth of Jesus with all the wondrous and mysterious historical details. Maybe our ‘ordinary reality’ is not all that ordinary after all!

Recently someone said: “We all get a bit homesick at Christmas time - even if we are ‘home.’ We get homesick for our childhood homes. We get homesick for our own homes filled with our children. We get homesick for homes we never had. We get homesick for the homes we left behind” (L. Sweet). It’s true, and even Christmas can have a tinge of sadness about it, especially in our overly-commercialized world. In any case, each memory has its own emotional hues and tones, some reminding us to be childlike, some reminding us that indeed we need a Saviour ‘to take away the sins of world,’ indeed our sins too. And of course, many of the immigrants around us also remember and perhaps they too are also homesick.

Let’s remember that in fact ‘Jesus came to his own, and his own people did not receive him’ (John 1:11). And yet, His rejection, being despised and forsaken, and even being ‘homeless’, was part of the glorious wisdom & love of God announced by the angel:

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:10-12)

“A Great Joy”! And so we know that the sadness is not ultimate, though waiting can be difficult, as the children especially know at this Christmas time.

I enjoy singing “Joy to the World”; it is so rich, and well…joyful! I especially like the lines “Let every heart prepare Him room” & “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found”. What might that mean for you and me? Of course we want to spend special time with Him in private and public adoration and instruction; and we want to be hospitable. Perhaps we can especially prepare room in our hearts and lives for our friends & neighbours who may be lonely and homesick. Many of these would, of course, be the immigrants and ESL students amongst us.

There is, though, another benefit of remembering at Christmas time, together with whatever ‘homesickness’ we might experience. Actually we are also homesick for THE HOME YET TO BE, are we not? The coming of Jesus is not only past, but He is also coming again, and we long for the fulfillment of all He has promised which he will bring at His return.

Jesus was born, yes; Jesus lived and ministered and died for us, yes; Jesus lived a perfect life and died a perfect death, yes; Jesus rose again from the dead, yes. But Jesus also said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14). Indeed, we are exiles and pilgrims now; this is not our home, and the past homes we might be homesick for are actually only signs of the eternal home prepared for us. Remembering Christmases past can help us to refocus with hope on things to come.

So we can also pray for ourselves:

O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Ps 39), and

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Ps 90)

May you be blessed, refreshed, humbled before the wonders we remember, and empowered anew to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Tom McCormick (you’ll enjoy this one; it might even be a good ESL lesson)

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