Important to recall real meaning of Christmas
VERY often on Christmas cards a picture of a crib or manger is shown among sprigs and wreaths of holly and stockings of presents – a good reminder to us all of the importance of making sure we leave room for the real meaning of Christmas.
This is the time of the year when we get caught up with the Christmas rush: card writing, present buying, food shopping and general preparations to spend more quality time with family and friends.
However, when reflecting on the picture of the crib scene I realise how easily I can overlook the enormous significance of what Christians are celebrating.
I get so used to seeing pictures of brightly lit nativity scenes with their clean straw, clean animals, smiling parents and perfect sleeping baby, that I forget the reality of the world into which Jesus was born. I forget the tremendous difficulties which Mary and Joseph would have experienced as a couple because of Jesus' birth. I forget the awful conditions in which Jesus really came into the world.
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Nothing that we ever see depicted on a traditional Christmas card – much of which is still experienced in Palestine/Israel and conflict-torn areas today.
And yet the truth is, as we are told in John's Gospel, "God so loved the world that he gave his only son".
During this season we make a special effort of celebrating Jesus' birth because we are celebrating the truth of God's love for each and every one of us – love which is shown to us in the person of Jesus Christ. God himself living as one of us, experiencing life, with all its joys and pains, and ultimately giving himself on the cross.
When we begin to reflect on all of this, then we understand something of why it is important to make space in our lives to celebrate Jesus' birth. A time to also appreciate and enjoy our meaningful relationships.
As we do so, offer a prayer for those less fortunate than ourselves. Where possible contribute to the many organisations which serve to bring relief to those who lack the basic necessities in life.