So, this is Christmas!
As I wandered down memory lane, I was struck with how Christmases have impacted my life. From childhood days through to the present, the tendency has been to sum up a period of learning and reflection into a climax in the short days of the Christmas season.
I remember being in elementary school. As we approached the Christmas season, I was eavesdropping on one of the few disagreements I ever heard between my parents (who were married for 57 years).
Apparently my mom wanted to get toy guns for the boys of the family. My father was a “conchie” – a conscientious objector in the second world war. Killing was not an option in his mind, and guns used in a war – well that was too fresh in his mind. We did get the toy guns, and a few years later, we received pellet guns. I suppose that was my father’s way of teaching us how to use guns properly.
I do not own a gun. I am not against guns for use in hunting. Neither was my father. Around the same time as the pellet guns appeared, my father had been a part of a hunting expedition that needed to butcher their kill. He had some expertise, since he helped his father with a “beef ring” on their farm. The term “beef ring” was a glorified way of saying that a group of friends each provided an animal for slaughter, based on a rotation that was worked out by the participants. My grandfather was chosen to be the butcher, and the barn was the abattoir.
Kick forward a few years, and the Christmas youth banquet was being held at our church. I was shy, and it took a lot to finally ask a girl to the banquet. A few years later, a new girlfriend invited me to spend a few days at Christmas at her parents place. By the way (BTW), the third girlfriend became my wife. I remained friends with all of them!
Now, come with me into my middle years of life. I’m a music director at a church, and we host an annual Christmas Eve musical service. The community attends and we have upwards of 800-900 people attend. Various musical personalities from other churches help to fill the platform, along with our own musicians. The music is excellent, the message of Christ at his birth is forefront. Me and my friends! Then off to an annual small gathering following the concert – with our next door neighbours. Christ and Christmas once again.
I don’t like our world this Christmas – we are less than good to all those around us. From the tweets of a president, to the clamp down on morality in a country that proclaims itself inclusive and tolerant, to the fierce competition for the dollar. If you need to add your own experiences and observations, you can expand on how we define “#METOO”. And then . . . stop to remind yourself that our hearts are too often not far from anger and fear and murder.
Perhaps that little baby Jesus’ words, uttered three decades later in his life, would be helpful. “Love God and love others.” Don’t stifle the inflow of life – that little baby opened our airways by providing a way to expel our own evil and to be spirited into the good life. Peace on earth begins with each of us – with a mindfulness meditation that breathes in God’s love and breathes out love for others.
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