The familiar words of the Christmas carol belie the feeling that it only seems like a few months since last Christmas. But it’s true. Christmas is almost upon us once again – shops bustling with Santas and decorations, and lay-by queues to test the patience of a saint.
I love Christmas. Over the years, the child in me has stood many times in awesome wonder at the enchantment of twinkling lights, beautiful angels, gold stars glittering under the special lights and nativity scenes of every size nestled in among Santas that go ho ho ho; and flashing red-nose reindeer rendering their own version of Rudolph at the touch of a switch; carollers strolling through the stores with their lovely voices wishing peace, joy, and goodwill to all men. And why not? Wasn’t Jesus born that every heart may embrace and be filled with those gifts.
Two thousand years down the track it hasn’t worked. There are too many hearts, homes and countries in our world today who do not possess even one of those beautiful gifts given so freely by Jesus to help us live and celebrate his birthday each year in peace and harmony and love. There are too many people who have been touched by the most terrible tragedies, who have endured the utmost pain of loss. The loss of their little children, some to the degradation and utter inhumanity of another human being, the loss of family, jobs, homes – the loss of freedom, of innocence and of hope.
Will the celebration of the birth of the little baby in Bethlehem in two weeks time ease the pain and sorrow of their hearts – I think not! The very meaning of Christmas shattered and the peace which Jesus meant for them overwhelmed by the darkness of despair and helplessness.
This year, my friend suggested that instead of buying for each other at Christmas, we buy a gift for Jesus, which would take the form of something lovely for his home – our Church. I thought this a wonderful idea, and it feels nice to be looking around the shops for something beautiful for the birthday child to be wrapped with love and taken to him on his special day.
While we are able to do this and buy gifts for the Jesse tree for those in need, there is another way in which we can reach out and encompass every heart this Christmas, especially the broken hearts, and tenderly join them to our own – not in a material way, but spiritually, by writing a letter to Jesus. This letter could be wrapped in beautiful Christmas paper, tied with ribbon and accompanied by a card which reads “to be opened only by Jesus”. In the letter we could speak with Jesus about the people who are hurting and desperately reaching out for his gift of peace. – the people we know, the people we read and hear of every day in the media and the people we don’t know of who need us to remember them. These letters could be placed in a special receptacle in our church and placed out for all the Christmas Masses.
The power of prayer and the promise of hope is truth, and the reason we believe deeply and fully in that truth is because it has taught us that God hears every prayer, prayed with a loving heart. In this way we are able to celebrate Jesus’ birthday fully and share our Christmas peace, joy and goodwill with everyone, confident that God will find a way to take the humble gift of our love and use it as he wills to bring peace and consolation to the broken hearted.
To do this will take not much time, but commitment, and a desire for no one to be left out of the birthday celebrations. There are plenty of exclusive parties happening at Christmas … Jesus’ isn’t one of them.
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