Firstly… Happy Christmas! Today is Christmas Day… and I hope that where ever you are that you know that you are loved and that today what we celebrate is for you… it’s Good News, Great Joy and it’s for All People!
It has been a number of years since I have written a blog about Christmas… in fact, if my quick dig through the blog is correct, I have only written about it once on this blog… I did a whole series way back in 2011… but since, there has only been a few references to Christmas time and the occasional picture, but this week as we have been traveling through New Zealand, I have been thinking a lot about Christmas and all that we do to celebrate.
Before leaving Melbourne Christmas was obvious and everywhere, there were songs, and gifts, food, lights and events and it all seemed to be everywhere all the time… It was quite overwhelming to be honest. Since arriving in New Zealand I have discovered that over here, this appears to not be the case. Christmas is much less obvious… perhaps this is because we have been doing touristy things and driving and not really frequenting shopping centres, but it seems to be much less constant here… and not just in one part… everywhere… Sure there are TV ads about Christmas and sales and the occasional Santa… but there is much less caroling, less lights, and generally less Christmas. And while at first I found this wonderful and much less stressful, as Christmas Day has come closer and closer I have found myself longing for it… for the tinsel and lights, for the carols and community events, for a church to have something on for us to go to…
Perhaps in New Zealand Christmas is just much more relaxed and they actually have it right, much less about the show and much more about the important stuff, taking a minute to stop and spend time with family? Or maybe being the end of December we’ve just missed it? I am not really sure… but I have found myself longing for the strangest things… homesick in a weird way for my ‘normal’ Christmas… which, in reality, is just as hectic and overwhelming as the weeks I described before we left.
I have been trying to work out what exactly I am missing… and to be honest, I think it’s a few things… the familiarity of my Christmas Tree and decorations… the twinkle of the lights… and the communal carol singing… because Christmas is a story of good news and great joy… and the songs that we sing declare this over and over again, in beautiful harmonies with the occasional outrageous descant.
A number of years ago our church’s Christmas series was on the theme ‘Good News, Great Joy, All People’ and it’s a phrase that has been stuck in my head ever since… but I think is mostly because it is true… and it’s adaptable to lots of mundane tasks you might like to declare at home.. for example… Good News, Great Joy, All People… Dinner is ready… or Good News, Great Joy, All People… I’ve finished the washing… see works for everything. Anyway, at Christmas there is an opportunity to have shared joy with all people over the gift of Christ, the hope of the world, the comfort in his birth and the miracle it was (in fact the older I get and the further into Motherhood I journey, the more of a miracle I think it is).
This year more than any other I have felt the weight of the world as it groans under poor human stewardship and been prompted over and over and over again to care for the land I live in and the people I live among… That in this difficult world full of pain, suffering, and problems that so often seem too big and difficult to comprehend… Where people seem to shun and judge first and listen second… Where my homeland burns and the land I am in has more rain and cold weather than a summer should or would normally contain… I know of a hope and light and joy that is for all people without a catch… and I have missed declaring this for weeks on end. I suppose the challenge for me has been how do I celebrate and bring this hope to others without my pre-provided platform… or prompts? And once again I think I have found my answer within the lyrics of a Christmas Carol… one I have blogged about before here way back in 2011… O Holy Night, but this time it has been the third verse that has caught me each time… it says…
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is Peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us Praise His Holy name
Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim
His power and glory evermore proclaim
So that’s what I will try to do today (and every day) to share this light… When Isaac wakes up to his makeshift paper Christmas tree, when we sing with Dave’s Grandparents’ at church, when we break bread with our family on a rare Christmas where we only have one destination to be… I will love, I will be a bringer of peace, and with my actions, I will be a bringer of Good News, Great Joy for all people.