From our family to yours, much love and Merry Christmas!
What a wonderful time the Christmas season is! Everywhere you go, beautiful carols are playing, reminding each hearer that the King of Kings came down to live among us. Trees are decorated, reminding us that the Light of the World shines brightly still. Everything slows down, at least for a few days, and we have time to think and reflect, and to enjoy our family and friends. We have time to remember the shocking truth that Christmas reveals..
God loves us.
He loves us so much that He sent His Son to be born in such an unexpected way and place, to be worshipped by lowly shepherds and great noblemen alike. Jesus came to live as a man, and to eventually suffer and die that ignominious death on a cross, all so that God could be with us forever. God loves me! But this great truth can never be told without its twin - yes, God loves me, but He loves my neighbor just as much.
Christmas is a great reminder that the love of God is not a selfish love in any way. God always shares His love so generously with us, and it is to be just as freely shared and freely given by us to others. Just as He gave the greatest gift of His Son to each of us, we share our gifts with one another as a testimony to the generosity and kindness of God. We share our time and open our lives and homes in true hospitality. How wonderful it would be if we could remember to live this way not just at Christmastime, but all year long.
One of the greatest literary testimonies to this is Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol. If you have never read it, please do - reading this story is a favorite Christmas tradition of mine. (Or, if you prefer, the movie version with George C. Scott is incredibly true to the little book.) In it, the famously grouchy and selfish miser, Ebeneezer Scrooge, is visited in the night by several spirits. The first is his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who was just as miserly as Scrooge in life, but has learned the terrible lesson of his selfishness in death...
“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
It held up its chain at arm’s length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.
“At this time of the rolling year,” the spectre said, “I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode!
So begins the warning to Scrooge, and the chance to change his ways before it is too late. It is such a wonderful little story, telling the tale of a man whose entire life is transformed by the love of God. He is forever changed, saying at the end of the long night, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."
Even better, so many others were impacted by this one man's change of heart. The story concludes, "Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more...He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world...It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."
This Christmas, may we rest in the love of God, for us and for those all around us. This new year, may Mankind, charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence be our business - may we keep Christmas well.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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