Saturday, December 23, 2006

Love- hate

There are many readings as listed below which are used over the Christmas services; a selection of some is below:
Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96-98; Titus 2:11-14; Titus 3:4-8; Hebrews 1:1-4; Luke 2; John 1:1-14

5 things I hate about Christmas
1.I hate that Christmas is a season that comes round once a year
and that it reminds us how we should behave all the year round
and yet we don't!

2. I hate that Christmas is a season when people get killed on the roads
in ways that could so often be avoidable

3. I hate presents that are given because we feel they have to be given
and which show no thought and no care.
So this might include scented bath salts and exploding fizzy things
that you put in a bath to make you feel good
and they only succeed in making you feel gritty

4. I hate the fact Christmas is about God's eternal love for us
about generosity, love and reconciliation
and we seem to make it into something else...about commercialism, exploitation, about gluttony
and about carelessness and recklessness

5. I hate the fact that Christmas should be about everything good and noble
and we really do settle for midnight shopping!

This tension that we feel is an important thing to understand
because it is the tension of living in a real world
A world that is flawed and sinful,
which could be better
and should be better
but which we find to be something of a struggle.
It is this tension that Christmas is all about.
St John reminds us in that most famous verse (John 3:16)
that : God loved the world so much, that he gave Jesus so that everyone who believes might not perish but might have eternal life.
That despite the tension and the temptation
to diminish human life
there is also the possibility
that things can be and are better than this.
While we, if left to our own devices, might scrub around in the dirt
and constantly get it wrong
because God desires more for us than that
there is a better way.
Which is why there are also:

5 Things I love about Christmas
These things largely represent a tension
between this struggle to get it right
and our tendency to get it wrong
and God's unremitting care for us
in bringing us back time and time and again
to give us the opportunity to get it right.
In a way, we have an eternity to get this right,
but we also discover that we want it to be right now.

1. I love that Christmas is about our human relationships
that it helps us to cherish those who God has given us to care for
and to realise that we don't have to be petty and backbighting
And so there is the tension that we should rightly hate
that we can be shallow and forget
that we almost manage to achieve
relationships which try to tolerate each other's failing and difficulties
in a spirit of forgiveness.
2. I love that Christmas is about quality time spent with family and friends
As we get older we realise that this is the heart fo Christmas
and that we should treasure what we have.
Take time to appreciate these curious presents that we all have
which is the people who will share Christimas with us.
I hate the fact that some people will feel aloneness
and maybe we should all recognise
that we can help people to not feel alone
by giving them the present that Jesus himself gives to us
That is the present of presence.
Being with others.
3. I love that Christmas is about generosity
While we live in an insane culture in which we are bombarded
not with the spirit of generosity but of greed (which we all hate)
let us do what we can to combat selfishness
and we do that by giving.
God loves the world so much that he GIVES his most precious gift.
We find it hard to be that generous.
But remember that just as loneliness can be broken by our choosing to do something about it,
so selfishness, poverty and greed can be addressed by us choosing to do something about that!
This is good for us.
It is redeeming.
It saves us.
This is, I think, what God is showing us.
This is what Christmas celebrates.
4. I love that at Christmas there are intimate important moments
Times that we look back on and fondly remember.
This is really what we remember about we enjoy each other.
I hate that for some people this will be their last Christmas.
Some of us will actually be very sad this Christmas
because this Christmas will be the first one without their mother or father,
because this Christmas will highlight who is not there as well as who is there
This might serve as a reminder
to pay attention right now
to those who we are called to love
and not assume that we have the next decade, the next year
or even the next day.
Make the most of these intimate important moments.
5.Finally I love that at Christmas there is this tension
That if, and when we penetrate all the hype
and we get frustrated that we don't always get it right
that we remember
that it is about what God is doing for us and in us
that it is not about the tinsel
and Fr Christmas
it is about living and experiencing the tension.

Take opportunity this Christmas
to enter into the mystery
of the things that we are called to love
and not get so distracted
by the things we find frustrating and hate.


Gay Erasmus said...

Stephen, I just wanted to wish you and your loved ones a merry Christmas. This post has a lot of meaning for me (especially at a time when the household is overrun by my young nephews and nieces, visiting for the holiday period, and wake-up time begins at 5.30am...tension indeed!). Thanks for your kind thoughts and your words of wisdom; I've appreciated both throughout the year.

stephen clark said...

Thanks GE