Clichés of Christmas Past!

by | Dec 20, 2009

Clichés are like Christmas decorations, we all have our favourites, and like Christmas decorations we keep them for years, tucked away in some dusty place and bring them out at particular times of the year. Like the angel which leans drunkenly at the top of the tree minus it’s halo, with one wing broken and bent they often grow more and more tattered and worn but we keep them and bring them out every year because frankly Christmas wouldn’t seem the same without them and perhaps they are a reminder of past Christmases when they were newer and brighter. There are the general clichés like “Christmas is so commercialized” did you have that conversation yet, no? Well quickly dash out and get it over and then we Christians have our own clichés like “Jesus-the reason for the season!” and “Wise men still seek him!” we emblazon our churches, cars and cards with those slogans in the hope that the unchurched everywhere will flock to the altars on hearing these pithy pieces of wisdom. 🙂

Well, here is my favourite Christmas cliché, “Christmas is about being with the Kids!”. Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending almost the whole day with my kids. We got up early and went to the mall to do some window shopping because despite the fact that I enjoy window shopping marginally more than root canal treatment Jessica my 12 year old loves it and I love her. Then at around 10 we all went to watch “Astroboy!” a movie that is unlikely to be remembered long in the Desmond hall of fame because my son Dan loves stories and movies are the best sort of story. In the afternoon I had a “Princess Party” at the Zoo with Jemima my 4 year old who rules my heart with one flick of her golden curls and a flash of her delightful smile. It was a wonderful day and it is what I am enjoying the most about this Christmas-the slower pace allows me to be with these beautiful little people. As I prepared for church in the evening I read again the story of the kid, the child that was given to us from heaven and it struck me forcibly that Christmas has always been about “the kids.” At the heart of Christmas is a child, Jesus. Every year at this time we see countless images of Jesus the child asleep in a manger, star overhead with wise men and shepherds gazing adoringly on and if we are not careful we can look but no longer see the incredible truth. He is “Immanuel-God with us” Christmas is about the ultimate gift – the presence of God with us. Imagine Mary’s wonder as she looked down into the eyes of the child God gave her on that first Christmas, she held in her arms the manifested presence of God!
Despite the fact that his birth was promised in prophesy, announced by angels, awaited by the religious elites of the day when it happened it came in a shockingly mundane fashion. A child was born to a teen aged girl in a small rural backwater in a conquered nation. The pregnancy was controvesial and for some suspisious the birth was humble and hidden this was hardly an inspiring start for the life which would change all of human history. It was so ordinary in some ways that if you were not paying attention you could have missed the event altogether, today many of God’s promises arrive in the same way. They seem small, insignificant and fragile some times they are also unexpectedly controversial but they are none the less full of promise. The revival which is even now beginning to burn in South Africa is like that, we are experiencing more and more of the manifest presence of God, it is wonderful and miraculous but like that first Christmas it is also controversial, messy and seems to be small, insignificant and fragile as if any moment the slightest gust could snuff it’s life out. However, from the prophetic promises that have been given over the years it seems that the birth of this wave of God’s presence is destined to change the destiny of nations. If we are faithful to care for and treasure the presence of God among us it will grow, mature and spread, to touch nations and to change the world. Don’t miss what God is doing because it does not look the way you expected it to, or it comes with controversial elements, or the “experts in God” condemn it, if you stop and listen you will hear the report of heaven.

So what is Christmas all about? The Father wanted to spend time with his kids. Jesus made that possible. Ultimately Christmas reminds us not of our obligation to live a moral life or to live according the golden rule or any other principle but it is an invitation to spend time with God. On Christmas morning as you watch kids eagerly unwrap presents that you left beneath the tree enjoy the moment and remember that your Father has also set up a tree, the tree of life, and has left presence there with your name on it. Go on -open it! Delight in his kindness and generosity and as you do you may just hear the delighted laughter of Daddy enjoying being with his Kids. Have a great Christmas!

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