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The many faces of Christmas

30 November, 1999

Gail Northgrave gives us some perspectives on the real meaning of Christmas. Her message is: “If you look close enough you’ll see Him smiling at you through your loved ones”.

Once again the bright lights twinkle. Here comes Santa Claus, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Away in a Manger and other traditional music fills the air waves. Ready or not, the Christmas season, with its bags full of emotions, has arrived.

Variety of emotions
Accompanying the variety of feelings area host of faces. The young are exuberant, anticipating happy times. Determination is etched on the faces of mothers and fathers who, in a medley of ways, seek to please their families.

The recently bereaved bravely plod through ‘the season to be jolly’. Others mask their sadness with a smile, knowing there is no more ‘going home for Christmas’. The eyes of the forgotten elderly scan all who enter nursing homes hoping to recognize a visitor as one of their own.

Voice of fear
This one miraculous day of the year is wrapped up in a month or more of preparations. Similarly, the good news revealed in the Christmas story is inexhaustible.

As I again pondered it, I recognized another face, one that attempts to keep all of us from fully enjoying this Holy Season. It is the face of fear. Just as Mary, Joseph and the shepherds had to be told by an angel, ‘Do not be afraid’, so do we. The spirit of fear knocks constantly at the doors of our hearts and minds. When life seems to be going well, we hear a little voice saying, ‘It won’t last’. When problems or heartaches arise we hear, ‘What’s next’ or ‘These things happen in threes’. Lies, lies and more lies. Jesus, God Himself, entered this messed-up world in the form of an infant to tell us that He loves us and wants us to live happy, fear-free lives.

Good news
While many fear the unknown, others fear financial shortages, illness, growing old, death of a loved one, war, loneliness and more. So what fears reside within you this year that you need Jesus to shatter? Be honest: we all have some.

As we openly acknowledge them we too, will hear an angel whisper, ‘Do not be afraid, I come to bring you good news’.

Eight-year-old Larry dreamed of playing baseball. His mother, trying to protect him from possible ridicule said, ‘You aren’t going to be able to run as fast as the other children because of your operation.’

Optimistically Larry replied, ‘I won’t need to run fast. When I play baseball, I’ll hit them out of the park. Then, I’ll just walk.’

A child’s love
Likewise, Tim expressed genuine love to his elderly next door neighbour whose wife had died recently. Upon seeing the man cry this four-year-old climbed onto his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, Tim just shrugged his shoulders. ‘Nothing, I just helped him cry.’

Therefore, what really makes Christmas ‘Christmas’? Is it the exquisitely decorated tree, the music, the parties, the church service or the scrumptious dinner shared with family and friends? Indeed, these contributions add to the Christmas festivities. Ultimately however, despite the ‘busyness’ and even heartaches, amid the music and the tears, it is the face of the Christ Child, the face of Love. And if you look close enough you’ll see Him smiling at you through your loved ones. ?

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