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A litany of Christmas images

anon — December 1983

What is the Christmas spirit?

A young woman in need, poor, the life within her urgent to be born ~ how many do we pass by, heedless of their needs, denying the promise they bear?

A stable. only straw and manger — strangers who understood the anxious mother and the steadfast man beside her, sojourners in their conquered land. Not to the rich and secure but to the caring, the humble and strangers, was the Christ child entrusted. But we clutch our fears and live out our hatred, branding others, like us, enemy never to be trusted. We spurn the powers of love God relied on, for megaton threats of vapourisation. The kingdom will be built to our designs, by promises of extermination ever more bound to come true, not by giving or by cherishing life, not by the response daring reconciliation. We flirt with annihilation, mesmerised by the perplexities of arms reductions, lacking the will to turn back.

A tiny baby… defenceless, a wonder to his parents, the hope in new life. Tiny lives flickering, snuffed out so often in a world still cold, not fired with the flame of love God lit on a Christmas morn. So few — least of all the rich and comfortable — see the 30 children who die every minute of poverty and starvation, while those with power feed our hatreds and fears with $1.3 million for arms in those 60 seconds. We are blind .to Christ the infant, who suffers our deafness to the cries of the children.

Angels heralding EmmanuelGod-with-us. The unseen surrounding us would hymn the joy of life and the promise of God. But we are not simple shepherds to be fooled. We are Adam, a little lower than the angels yet given the created order, in freedom made ruler. We claim our lordship through alliance, warhead, bomber, submarine, missile, killer satellite, silent stealthy gas and crippling disease. We shall be like gods, not shepherds seeing the radiance and going on our way singing alleluia, thanks be to God who gives us new life.

A star that none save the blind could miss and wise men followed to bring their treasure from afar. Unchanging brightness of God’s presence to lead us, but only if .we go in search to give all that means most to us to the one who for us became love — the way, the truth and life. But, unthinking, we would get, not give. Times are tough. We would insist on our raise, blame employers, the government, the unemployed, for not trying, while the needy — the old or handicapped, sole-support mothers and children, the unemployable and luckless (mirror of our unmerited success) — face endless cuts in their meagre necessities, and despair. We would ignore the star, enshrine the wise men in legend, forget the meaning of their response to the promise God gives in Christ.

An old man greeting the newborn Christ sees that he is the rising sun, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Christmas is all the hungry, the homeless, the helpless.

Christmas is hope, and homage to human vulnerability and the power of love.

Christmas is bringing to the One who would be with us our hearts, hands, minds, and things, so there may through us be healing of human hurts.

Christmas is the peace of God’s response to those who take Christ’s way of reconciliation.

Phyllis Creighton
November 1983

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