Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
As we will all have seen and heard in the news recently, sadly we don’t have to wait until Christmas before an occasion or charity calls on us to put our hands into our wallets and donate, and pounds rather than pennies are the order of the day now.
We cannot imagine what it must be like to suffer the consequences of a typhoon, our weather even when extreme is never that bad. Neither can most of us, thankfully, imagine what it feels like to be homeless. The power of television, radio and the Newspapers is such that images appear in our living rooms and at the breakfast table, of crises from the other side of the world almost in real time. So soon after they happen. They tell of babies born in exceptional circumstances and how lives have been changed for ever, in an instant.
How does that make us feel? Helpless, sad, informed, quick get the Debit card out and give? And how long before the crisis in the Philippines becomes less of a headline and more a debating point on how best to spend our giving? Not all that long I think.
At this time each year we remember the Incarnation, the whole mystery of God becoming man in the child Jesus who was from the beginning homeless, as a young child experienced exile from his home country, and as an adult went without food for days on end. No television or radio then, I wonder what the headlines would have been, maybe he was just one of many births that night. You can almost imagine many years on from the first Christmas morn, the ancient Shepherds telling their grandchildren ‘I remember when I first heard, I first saw, and it’s amazing what that baby went on to do and be’. Who knows perhaps we will be telling folk in many years to come of the time we saw on television or heard on the radio of a baby born to homeless parents and what that child achieved when they grew up into adulthood.
I invite you all to say a personal prayer for the people of the Philippines and for those who are trying to help them cope with this huge crisis. As I have said before, prayer doesn’t change God, it does though change us, and even if it means we appreciate our own homes and our own Christmas celebrations more, then that will be good. If as a result of our prayer we feel moved to give more to share with others then that too will be good.
Christmas is a time for celebrating a mystery. We will all find different ways of celebrating, be it through the sharing of bread and wine in our services at church or goose, turkey, beef or chicken, on our dinner plates. Perhaps Christmas pudding, or cake, or crackers or a special drink or two in the company of those we love at home.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and don’t be shy in celebrating here even though sad things happen elsewhere, do what you can for others and be kind to yourself – have Boxing day off!
Love from Reverend Ann