Rediscovery – December 2021
The real world……
“But for you who revere My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like well-fed calves let out to pasture.…..” (Malachi 4.2)
Have you ever had that strange experience, where you’re taken up with the business of life, all its complexities and all its demands, the din of rotating thoughts preoccupying your mind – then, you suddenly become aware of a bird singing, or the wind rustling the leaves on the trees, or the pattering of rain, or even an unexpected shaft of sunlight breaking through the thick clouds, bringing a welcome warming? It’s as if we are spontaneously made conscious of another world that lies behind; it’s the original, real world, blanketed and silenced by the shroud of clumsy human constructions.
The New Testament calls the human world the “kosmos” – Romans 12.2) – a world that wants to swallow us up and mold us in its image; to absorb us into its systems, and patterns of thinking. Sadly, the kosmos is vehement that there is nothing else, and no alternative world.
And, to the greater part, the kosmos has hijacked Christmas.
The Turning Point
One of the most Christmassy Christmases I have ever had was one year in my mid-thirties. I had volunteered to work with the Salvation Army over the festive season, and had to pick up Christmas “Meals on Wheels” from the Citadel in Warrington (Incidentally, the officer in charge at that time was Captain Kirk!) My deliveries were on Christmas Day. My final drop-off was to an old lady living alone in a flat in Padgate. I laid out the meal for her, and then she said, “Please will you get my drink out of the fridge.” I went into the kitchen and opened the fridge door. It was totally empty, apart from a half full can of lemonade on the middle shelf, which I took through to the lady.
Why was this the most Christmassy of Christmases? It made me painfully aware of people’s needs; it made me shake off the underdeveloped view I had held of Christmas; and it made me resolve to be there for others.
As Christians, can we defy conventional culture and aim at simplicity and sincerity? For us, this whole season, from Advent Sunday to Candlemas, is about reflection, sharing and serving. We are about to be pushed, once again, into extravagance and self-indulgence, but let’s prepare ourselves, and as far as is possible, within our family responsibilities, aim at an authentic Christmas.
Can we take time to understand the feelings and emotions of those around us, and, forgetting about ourselves, focus on their needs? Can we enjoy Christmas celebrations, parties, and TV, but be also wonderfully conscious of the inner warm of the Christ child born in us?
The verse from the book of Malachi I began this article with is beautiful, but a bit obscure. Yet when we read Zacharias’ contribution to the Christmas story (below) we realise that it was a promise in the Old Testament which comes true in the New Testament – Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness!
“The rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
(Zacharias’ “Benedictus” Luke 1.78-79)
When we put our full trust in Him, He will return us to the beautiful creation where birds sing, the wind rustles the leaves on the trees, the rain patters, and we go free and leap for joy. Jesus Himself is the unexpected shaft of sunlight breaking through the darkness of all our winters.