The Paper – Editorial November 2012 -
The Spirit of Christmas
What would we do without Christmas! It is the sort of safety pressure valve in the flow of life that opens up the lines and relieves the pressure that builds up from the year’s activities!
It is interesting that the recognition of Christmas as a time to encourage us to think of what might be termed “the more enduring” qualities of life has been around for a long time. We still see, for example, Ebenezer Scrooge (the Charles Dickens character in his story A Christmas Carol written in 1843) displayed in the David Jones Store windows, depicting so effectively the struggle each of us still faces in 2012 – how to gain the right balance between materialism and idealism, in which we acknowledge a greater joy in giving than in receiving.
Many readers may be familiar with the story in the Bible about the two sisters Mary and Martha. (1) Jesus had come to visit, and Martha was busy with the preparations, whilst Mary sat paying attention to, and listening to the visitor. Finally Martha could stand it no longer! She knew that Jesus was a fair person, and had a good work ethic, so she approached Him, asking him to tell Mary to start pulling her weight around the house! However, the response was not as Martha had anticipated – Jesus explained that there is a need to balance the important responsibility of doing things that have to be done against the need for fellowship and communication and for setting our mind to think about issues beyond the everyday world in which we live. Whilst He tried not to take sides, and recognised the need for both roles, He did seem to come down on Martha for wanting to deny Mary the opportunity of “stopping to smell the roses”!
Each of us should be careful this Christmas season that we do not let the things that have to be done so dominate our activities that we deny ourselves the opportunity to enjoy the festivities, and we forget to consider what it is all about. As mentioned earlier the process of Christmas as a time to enjoy the company of others, to do things with our friends and to review the real issues of life has been accepted for a long time. How we actually do it varies with the world around us – how we buy the presents, who we visit, what meals we prepare - these all change from generation to generation, but the real purpose of Christmas should be for each to relax, relate and seek to realise within ourselves the most important issues of life.
To Christians, of course, Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birthday of the baby Jesus (even though some may question the accuracy of the date). In Him, we believe, was the physical manifestation of God, the Creator of the Universe. In celebrating His birth in a stable we see an extreme demonstration of humility, which continued throughout His historic life ending in the sacrifice of His own self, even though the Roman Governor had openly said he found no fault in Him! The reasoning behind these activities is beyond our human abilities to understand, but in believing and accepting them we find a connection with something beyond our earthy limitations that enables us to more fully appreciate values different from those which predominate in the immediate material World around us. No wonder Christmas is an important time for Christians!
We wish you all a happy Christmas and a prosperous 2013. We would like to invite you to visit a Church in your local Community over this Christmas period, to talk about the Christian perspectives behind the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. See Church Notices in this Paper for times of Meetings at the Christian Israelite Church in Campbell Street – a Church which has been in continuous service in this Community for 160 years - since 1853.
(1) Those interested may like to read the account in their own Bible in Luke chapter 10, verses 38 to 42.
Rodney Gray – Pastor Christian Israelite Church, 196 Campbell Street, Sydney (www.cichurch.com) .