This will be my final post of this year, and potentially thereafter. I haven’t firmly decided yet. As I always say, ‘I have a love-hate relationship with social media.’
I started this series of posts with photographs and post of ‘The Dark Hedges’, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland (where I am from), and am ending it with a post about the state of the world and what Christmas is really all about. (No real link there, except the darkness and beauty theme, and a little of what may go on in my mind!).
As Europe deals with yet another terror attack, and (at time of writing), a terrorist still on the loose, the continent as a whole is now being told to be on alert. One could be forgiven for thinking this is far from a peaceful, relaxing Christmas time, so many in the West have in the past have grown used to.
My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones due to the events in Berlin on Monday night, and we mustn’t become numb to such horrific news, as has felt somewhat apparent since.
The frequency with which some of these attacks are now happening, together with the need to continue ‘normal life’ and not give in to the attackers, means many have simply drowned out the dastardly acts and are continuing the Christmas spending frenzy and busyness seen to be an essential at this time of year.
Meanwhile Syria continues to be a bottomless pit of awfulness and pain, heartache and brokenness with no solutions ongoingly it seems.
So what are we to make of the recurring words I hear or see written now everyday, ‘Happy Christmas!’?
I don’t have all or perhaps any of the answers, but I am thankful I do have a person who is the reason for the season, in my life, and the reality of relationship with Him, at the core of this time of year.
I am writing, of course – in case you haven’t grasped it – about Jesus Christ. Not a very cool, common or ‘PC’ thing or person to talk or write about these days in the ‘uber’ cool 21st century 2016, but hey… I was never one to follow the crowd.
The first Christmas – and the one we look to as the reason for the season – was no breeze either.
Mary and Joseph had to travel to their home town for a census ordered and decreed by the political leader at the time. The awkwardness and inconvenience of Christ the King being born on their travels, as a tiny baby, in a manger, full of dirt, smells and animal company, was not lost on the God who sent him into the world because he loved it (us) so much.
This was and is a tale like no other, for, in reality, we look to, and live, as Christians not to Christmas, but to Easter, in reality, as the powerful and pertinent time of year to remember the true reality, that Christ was and is not only born into this world, but also resurrected from it, into a heavenly King who is set to return. Christianity is not about religion, it’s about relationship – with Jesus, yes, but also God the Father who sent Him, and the Holy Spirit who came to replace him and remain, available today mysteriously and majestically to us all, still, upon this earth. We need only ask. It’s pretty awesome actually, in the only true meaning of that word.
So, perhaps you know the story, but perhaps – as I suspect from the scores who follow me on here – you do not. If the latter is the case, I would challenge you and urge you to take another look at the story this festive season, for I counsel you, it and he is not just a story. Not just a nice wee baby in the manger, nor even. You can find it on the internet even, in a bible site, such as http://www.biblegateway.com, and look up the start of the book of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. It’s a read like no other, and just might even change your life.
Jesus is the reason for the season, as the ‘cheesy’ saying goes, but in reality this year it’s perhaps even more pertinent than ever. As ISIS seeks to kill people and chop people’s heads off, the Church has got to BE the answer, wake up out of slumber and start to to truly start to reflect Christ. (NB. To those of you like me who’ve experienced far from this from the Church at large, please accept my sincerest apologies. This was never how it was supposed to be. )
Jesus was and is full of compassion, sincere care, and true love. Not only to the wealthy, but especially to the poor. Good news indeed to those of the many who are struggling with debt this festive season.
He calls us to be counter cultural and love our enemies, and be sons of peace, not of conflict, yet what does this look like in a lost and broken world?
Angela Merkel tried, it seems to extend kindness in humanitarian aid to refugees last year, but will it turn out that this open border policy was a little beyond the realms of the wisdom of the three wise men?
The good news of Jesus birth and the subsequent rest of the story thereafter deserves a fresh pondering this year, and I fully intend to do so, in the next few days.
To those of you looking on, curiously reading – even this – wondering what this Jesus guy was and is all about, perhaps with many questions, and questions so far without answers, keep questioning. You’re on a good path. It’s only by questioning we ever get any answers. He isn’t just a figment of many people’s imaginations. He wasn’t just a baby either, born like any other.
And He isn’t just for Christmas (or Easter for that matter!).
Take a delve into it for yourself. Don’t take my word for it.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word with with God, and the Word was God.”
Amidst the food, fun, family, and festivities, I hope, pray and decree that you will have a blessed, happy and peaceful Christmas, spare a prayer or more for those who do not, and I wish you and yours a happy, blessed and prosperous new year 2017.
The computer and technology are going off now for the rest of 2016.
The holidays have begun…