Gifts that Say Something
A christmas present in humble packaging is often spectacular and a gift in glitzy paper can be disappointing. But, the most treasured gift isn’t necessarily the most expensive, it’s the one that shows how well we listened during the year. How well we’ve watched and discerned in the midst of life. The gift that says I know you, is the one that’s most often appreciated.
I wonder what made the wise men wise. Was it their astronomy or maybe they were simply brothers with the surname Wiseman. For men who already had it all you’d think they wouldn’t bother looking for a baby in a back shed. But maybe their wisdom was in knowing that they didn’t know it all.
Invitations to royal events are usually given to people who are high up the status ladder. In the Christmas story the first invitation to meet Jesus was given to shepherds and shepherds were regarded as total low life’s. But I love the fact that heaven ignores our social pecking order. It says something like,the playing field with God is always level.
If Christmas is the season for giving, then by default it’s the season for receiving. Some people are great receivers, others struggle to accept something they haven’t earned or don’t feel they deserve. But receiving a gift wholeheartedly is sometimes the best thing that you can give in return. It says ‘thank you’ with grace and simplicity.
Hanging Out With Jesus
One of the names for Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God is with us”. Joan Osbourne sang the question “What if God was one of us. Well,Christmas means we can answer Joan’s question. Cause Jesus was always on the bus or with the slobs. He had an amazing way to be with people. He lived up to his name Immanuel.
A Top Bloke
In the Christmas story, Joseph doesn’t get a lot of airplay but he was an amazing bloke. He would have looked like the guilty party when he took pregnant Mary to be his wife. But at God’s instruction he stuck with her and raised Jesus. He was a good man and a faithful step father, definitely the shining knight in the Christmas story.
A Legacy of Giving
St Nicolas was a 4th century bishop in modern day Turkey. His reputation for secret giving is what our modern day santa klaus is modelled on. St nick would do things like put coins in shoes left them out for him. I think it’s stunning how his generous and creative heart left a legacy for all time.
Giving to Strangers
Christmas trees were traditionally decorated with fruit, nuts and dates. Im glad those things migrated to the table, but so did huge Christmas lunches. And we try to eat it all! Maybe this christmas we can leave some food on the tree so to speak, by donating to a charity that puts food on other peoples’ plates.
A Place to Stay
I wonder how many people the publican turned away before he offered a place to Mary and Joseph. ‘Mate we’re full here, but you can have the hay shed” Who do we know that might be alone this Christmas. Maybe someone whose ridden across the desert on a metaphorical donkey. And what will we say if they knock on our door.
Down to Earth
On the night Jesus was born, some shepherds were invited by a choir of angels to visit their new king. I wonder if they were disappointed or excited, when they arrived at a dirty stinking stable. Disappointed that he wasn’t staying at the Bethlehem Hilton, or wrapped that he just came as down to earth as them.
Dreams and Hopes
To Santa or not to santa, that is the question. I can’t say too much here, But one thing is for sure, kids need dreams. Something to look forward to, and it’s no different for us big kids. Santa doesn’t work the same way for us, but the principle is the same that dreams and hope keep us looking forward.
Coming in 2013 “The Grace Unearthed Collection.”
A boutique book series by author ALIKI exploring the byways of life, faith and hope.
Shopping for Christmas presents can wear thin.There’s a constantly evolving list that leaves us wondering who we’re going to forget or could we get away with recycling some presents from last year. It can be hard work, but let’s remember the reward comes in seeing excited outstretched hands,a lit up face and a warm Christmas hug.
Christmas in Australia
It’s funny how Christmas is usually portrayed with snow, when half the planet has always spent Christmas in Sunshine. Coming from New Zealand, I spent my first Australian Christmas at the beach, complete with BBQ, surf, prawns and sand. A beautiful way to celebrate the blessings of life in an amazing country.
Keeping the Peace
I once heard a taxi driver mention, that on Christmas day, passengers around 2 in the arvo just couldn’t wait move onto the next thing. It seemed the obligatory family lunch and interactions often get too exciting. My hope and prayer for you this Christmas is that family time is a time of peace, joy, reminiscing and blessing.
Christmas at War
Christmas 1914 was quiet at the western front of World War I.Unofficial ceasefires brought soldiers from both sides into no mans land, where they exchanged gifts, songs and Christmas greetings. Differences were pushed aside to acknowledge the birth of one who died to save many. The next day it was war as usual, but in those moments each man found common ground and peace.
Light of the World
The tradition of Christmas lights is beautiful. A blaze of twinkling glory from Aussie roof tops. We do the rounds and stand in awe right alongside our kids.But in January it all gets taken down. Jesus offers himself as the light of the world all year round. God is called the Father of heavenly light sand the best thing is: They’re never pack up or switched off.
Still in Sight
There’s normally a lot of excitement around the birth of the first child. But, Mary and Joseph were a long way from home when Jesus was born. They were effectively alone but I love that God sent angels to bring them shepherds and a star to bring them wise men. It says that no matter where we are, we’re not off God’s radar.
A stable probably wasn’t Josephs dream for Mary having a baby,and He might have felt embarrassed when the wise men plonked down their expensive gifts. It takes a man with a humble and grateful heart to get through a situation like that. Christmas is a time to be grateful for what we have,whether a stable or very great riches.
The Gift of Compassion
On Christmas night with Mary having contractions, it would have been unsettling every time an inn keeper said NO. But something made a difference that last time and I think it was compassion. The Inn keeper put aside management rights and put himself in their tired dusty sandals. I love that! Compassion is an extraordinary gift we can give another this Christmas.
On Christmas night, the shepherds were told that the birth of the messiah, their king, was good news. But King Herod thought it was bad news, because it would end his career. Jesus said “whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life”. That does sound like good news and that’s what the shepherds chose.
Breaking the Rules
Shepherds are not supposed to leave their sheep alone at night. But the ones near Bethlehem broke all the rules, to search for a baby. And this is what Jesus said God is like that He would leave 99 behind to find just one. Because every single one of us, is precious to him no matter how far away, lost or alone.
First Fleet Mercy
The first Christmas in Australia was celebrated at Sydney cove 1788. After church in the morning, the governor and his officers enjoyed a decadent lunch, while everyone else got rations of bread. BUT goodwill was offered to man called Michael Dennison who had stolen a pound of flour and was sentenced to 200 lashes. But since it was Christmas day he only got 150. A christmas gift of mercy.
Joy to the World
In a world where bad news makes for a good news week, my favourite Christmas carol is “Joy to the World.” My favourite line is: He rules the world in truth and grace. Truth on its own can be harsh and unforgiving. Grace on its own has no backbone. But when you put them together, you get perfect love. That’s what brings joy to the world.
Spirit of Australia
William G James wrote the Aussie Carol ”the north wind is tossing the leaves.” The North wind is hot and dries out the earth. Nevertheless William writes “As we lift up our voices and sing……” This is the spirit of Christmas in Australia, one that will celebrate life even in harsh conditions and the challenges of the day.
A World with Christmas
Christmas is a pause on the landscape of a busy life. It takes stock of family and love, it teaches us to give and receive, it splits time into two,BC and AD, it brings communities together and adds colour to the canvas of traditions. A world with Christmas is beautiful indeed.
For more about ALIKI www.aliki.com.au
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