“The angel Gabriel said to Mary, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’.” ~Luke 1:35 (NRSV).
Our modern culture has us lost to the Christmas story because of the hurry and bustle that entraps us as we approach it, and that, usually, for love. Motivation to get the planning done right—gifts selected, organised, and wrapped, preparations for feasts made, travel plans for incoming or outgoing family members booked etc—means we often lose sight of the wonder enfolded in the ancient Christmas story.
After all, the Saviour of the world was just being born; God’s redemptive plan ignited.
An interesting thing occurs when we decide for reflection over busyness; even for intentionally dreamy moments sprinkled within chaos.
We get to enjoy the experience of true spirituality: joy, peace, and goodwill toward all. The greatest of gifts at Christmas time, or any time for that matter, are those of virtue; three are selected to illustrate:
It’s only when we have space between the ears that we can envision and enter into joy. A hurried mind is beyond joy, but reflection over what we’ve experienced, survived from, and learned about through our year brings the quiet joy of satisfaction.
Besides, thought of Jesus is, as Isaac Watts put it, Joy to the World. But only as we draw near to Christmas with thought of Jesus do we gain access to such joy.
Peace may very well result from joy; and hope is not too distant an experience, either. If joy is made available when we have time to think, how much more is peace?
We can only experience peace, commencing from within, when we are not at war with anything. Conflicts have been resolved. But, the materialistic temptation of typical Western Christmas nowadays separates us from such peace and even forges conflict. Will we be drawn into it this year?
3. Goodwill (grace)
How wonderful to enjoy those wondrous gifts at Christmas: joy and peace. How could they not propagate goodwill between us and our loved ones, and friends, and neighbours?
Christmas is about the birth of Jesus; the physical commencement of the reconciliatory age. How much better to emulate such redemptive philosophy within one’s own family? Forgiveness abides perfectly at Christmas time.
As Christmas approaches we have a choice as to how we will approach it.
Will we take the lead-up to Christmas like we have done in previous years—an exhaustive flurry of activity that takes us away from the abiding Presence of God? Or, will we heed the lessons of past and plan for this time as a calm preparation toward a celebration of the Saviour’s birth and, at our acceptance, the magnificence of our resulting salvation.
The best of practical blessings is freely available during the Christmas season. Those blessings well over in freely-flowing love as family and close friends celebrate the wonder of Jesus’ birth in a spirit of harmonious, thanks-filled fellowship.
All that Christmas is about is Jesus. If we remember that, reflecting over it in humble gratitude, we may gain joy, peace, and goodwill to carry us through the season—we will never be better blessed.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.