Dear Friends

When we consider the Christmas story you could easily associate it with a script from a major blockbuster. A story of good and evil and a cast of many, comprising of your key A list celebrities, consisting of an innocent young girl, her husband and a baby. We find them embroiled in this unfolding action-packed drama of a bad king, angels and kings arriving in all their splendour.   However, for most of us, advent season can be an  experience of non-stop action. Yet in the middle of it all a sense of solitude can be encountered.

As a film buff, I am always intrigued by the many subliminal messages that can be discovered in films. Christmas is a time when we are exposed to heart-warming messages that wish to connect with your emotions and to offer that warm comforting feeling. One particular film that goes to the heart of the true spirit of Christmas is the “The Polar Express”.  It is a young boy’s journey of wanting to affirm his belief in Santa Claus, but in his efforts to find the truth, he only discovers disbelief in Santa’s existence. This idea would soon be disbanded as other children board the “Polar Express”, where the dreams of all that were once lost will be found! The young boy’s eyes light up on meeting Santa and being given the gift of a bell. He is reminded that this gift holds the true message of Christmas to quote; “the true spirit of Christmas lies within the boy’s heart”.

In the gospel account according to Luke, we hear the words of the shepherds as they entered the stable. They made known to Mary and Joseph what had been told to them about this child by the angels. Their response was to be amazed by what they heard, “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” Luke 2:19. To treasure things, means to value them. Mary pondered what had happened, not just once but repeatedly. She tried continuously to make sense of what was happening and reflected upon those moments. We find this in her song, the “Magnificat” which exemplifies that she was immersed in God’s Word. Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but is also a model of faith to follow.

In recent years, we have lost the ability of pondering, standing still and   listening for God’s Word to speak to us.  We have allowed our depth of knowledge to be overcome by the breadth of experience. The true spirit of Christmas is not just simply about facts or only about possessing the truth that lies within, but allowing it to transform us.

This advent season, don’t allow this moment to surge over you and pass you by, otherwise you will emerge the other side weary and unchanged. We need to be more like Mary and to think through what it means to have “God with us” in the image of the Christ child. This year, in all the hustle and  bustle, make space to spend some time in quiet stillness, and allow time to ponder the truth about the baby, God himself coming into the world for all humanity to rescue and redeem us.

Christmas blessings to you all!

Shalom

Martin