End of Christmas .....Next ????

For one fleeting period in time I hope that we have been able to experience this Christmas the warmth of family, the generosity of friends, the kindness of strangers, the joy of community and a deeper appreciation of the gift of  faith.  

I hope we have received gifts that strengthen our faith and give us hope for the year ahead.

The gift of Christ at Christmas is truly awesome and when I think of the millions around the world that have come to the manger to see the Christ Child I am humbled and glad to be able to share that faith.

I don't know what you came with to the manger this year, what anxieties ,questions or words you had in your heart - poor Joseph in the scene below looks completely overwhelmed by it all and all the preparation and comings and goings of the Christmas festivities can leave us all with a sore head !!  

Looking at the figures clamouring to get a glimpse of  a barely visible tiny Jesus I am struck by so many things; the raw excitement, the pressure of the crowd, the individual and diverse expectations and needs of so many different people. 
I think of the words from the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem: "the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight." 

Look at the faces leaving the scene and see if you can see a transformation.

  “Nativity” artist Brian Kershisnik. 

Update -  Click here for a video by Brian Kershisnik talking about his work.

This poem by by Dr. Howard Thurman, a theologian and civil rights leader, is from his book “The Mood of Christmas” and asks us not to keep the gift that Christ and Christmas has given us just for ourselves....

The Work of Christmas

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters
To make music in the heart.”

One of the well received resources I gave a link to at the beginning of Advent was from Christine Sine at Godpspace and it seems fitting now as we come to the end of Christmas and the end of the year to post  her finishing lines on this Christmas :

"Did any of us really get what we expected?  This season, long anticipated by many of us as the celebration of the birth of Christ our Saviour, often comes with unexpected consequences.  The gifts never quite meet everyone’s expectations and leave behind mountains of wrapping paper and ribbon that will add yet more indestructible rubbish to the landfills.
The birth of Christ wasn’t quite what was expected either.  Two thousand years ago he appeared in an unexpected place and in an unexpected way. His birth was ignored by the religious leaders who were looking for a king to increase their privilege and power. It threatened the political leaders who retaliated by vengefully killing all infants around Bethlehem.  I am not sure that those who encountered the baby Jesus found what they expected either.  

The Magi after their long and arduous journey must have expected far more than an ordinary looking infant born to a young inexperienced mother.  And the shepherds who experienced the incredible spectacle of angels singing in the heavens must have come looking for someone quite extraordinary.

Today too we often find in Jesus what we least expect.  Maybe we have come looking for a child born in a stable, an unassuming infant whose advent makes us feel good but does not impose difficult demands.  Instead we have found a revolutionary leader whose words and actions turned the world upside down.

Babies born in the backwater of civilization are easy to ignore.  Yet even a child disrupts the world of its parents and makes demands that turn their world upside down.  So it is with Jesus.  

We welcome him as a cute little baby but if we continue to journey with him, we soon realize that he wants to turn our world upside down.  

That cute little baby in the manger scene has indeed become a revolutionary leader who is slowly transforming everything we are and do."

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