1st after Christmas:
Reflections given by Mrs Jill Robertson
Taken from Hay and Stardust by Ruth Burgess (Ed), Published by Wild Goose Publications 2005
The meditation is by Lynda Wright.
As you look at the icon and the various people represented there, think about the following:
· Think about your spiritual journey this year
· Do you identify with any of the characters in the icon?
· What questions have you lived with this year?
· How has pain and exhaustion affected your faith?
· What do you look forward to?
· Have you been tempted to give up the struggle?
· How have you felt far away from God?
· Can you name the moments of wonder that have nourished your journey?
· Where have you found God in your own caring of others?
Celebrating the Christmas Spirit
Jill Robertson, December 30th 2007
The last verse of that hymn has some really important words in it that sum up what I want to say this morning.
we discern a brighter light,
Act out the God within,
Then "God is love" that great insight
is where we must begin.
As we think back over the period of Christmas, I am sure that you remember all the busyness, the pressure of giving, the pressure to buy, to eat, to be pleasant to people. Christmas can be quite stressful really can't it? It is no wonder we often look forward to a big rest on Boxing Day!
I sometimes wonder what God makes of all our busyness too. As Christians I know we often think that God gets left out of most people's Christmas, and only the partying and present giving is concentrated on. I know I always make sure that my Christmas card each year has some sort of Christian message in my greetings to people.
God is with us, Emmanuel,
there is hope for peace, hope, love and joy
God sent his Son to be a human being
Many other messages must come to your mind as you look at the cards you have received.
A message I have never used, but one that seems to fit the season, is the commandment "Love one another as I have loved you".
I think I used to be very conscious of wanting people to recognise that Jesus is the reason for the season, or whatever other jingle you can think of, but lately I have become more relaxed about all this.
As we see Christians and non-Christians alike making the effort to please one another at Christmas time, I think I sense that God is smiling. Family members who are at odds with one another, actually make the effort to get along with each other. They may even take some time to choose a gift that is appropriate for someone.
The giving and receiving of gifts may have become a bit over the top lately, but it is still an incredibly powerful activity psychologically. To give someone a gift is to give a part of you. The part that has cared and taken trouble over thinking about that person, choosing a gift, spending money on it, and then taken the risk to give the gift - often in person - hoping that it will be received well.
To receive a gift means looking a person in the eye and saying thank-you, or perhaps writing an email or a letter, or making a phone call, appreciating the effort they have gone to, to please you. Sometimes this can be a bit hard, if the gift you are given isn't exactly what you were hoping for - or as happened to our daughter this week, the same gift had been given by the same people a few years ago! But we smile and say thank-you, appreciating their thought and effort anyway! It is hard to do that with bad grace isn't it? I know that it is sometimes very hard to get on with all members of your family, but somehow at Christmas time we make that effort.
We have had similar experiences here at Kippax with the generosity shown to the people who have come here for food hampers and children's gifts. What motivates us to give like that? I believe it is the recognition that everyone deserves to be loved (and fed) and in a spirit of gratitude to God, we give of our time and money to bring some happiness to those in need. We feel the call to be Christ incarnate and do as he would do. Many of the recipients of these hampers are also wanting to show their love to us, in their gratitude for the help. The one day I was on duty in the foyer, a man offered to come anytime we needed some heavy lifting done, as he was very willing to help us whenever he could, in gratitude for the gifts we had given him and his family. This also shows his desire to be a useful member of the community, taking his part along with the rest of us, not just being part of the receiving, but part of the giving too.
It is this effort of loving one another that I think shows the presence of God in all people, no matter whether they consider themselves to be Christians or not. We acknowledge that God is love, and at Christmas time I think we see God - as love - in action in more people than we see at any other time of year. If we are human, we are made in God's image. It is of God's very nature to be loving, and so it is for us humans too. Let us celebrate the amount of God's presence that is demonstrably among us at this time of year. It is this that I think makes God smile.