After my last blog bemoaning my agony at Christmas because of estranged family relationships, I feel honour-bound to counteract it in part. I am taking the act of counting my blessings more seriously to turn the negative aspects of my Christmas expectations into positivity, by simply saying that through an act of kindness shown to me by a friend I have my mojo back. Having someone rooting my corner at Christmas makes all the difference. And the best thing is this friend isn’t just for Christmas. Having a friend in my life who is there when I’m down and there when I’m not down is the one constant that I can depend on.
You’re probably thinking I’m talking about Jesus and, in one way, I am. This type of friend is a great example of how a Christian should behave. She imitates the love of Jesus through her compassion, empathy, her kind and caring ways, and her willingness to help with anything, no matter what, without judgement of me or others. I think we can all learn something worthwhile from that kind of behaviour.
Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest examples of how to show the love of Jesus Christ to others. In one of his many speeches he said: “(we are) born to make manifest the glory of God within us because by doing so we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” (based on an idea from ‘A Return to Love: Reflection on the Principles of A Course in Miracles’ by Marianne Williamson 1992).
I’m enjoying reading a children’s book at the moment by Jostein Gaarder called The Christmas Mystery that manages to capture the history of Christianity in simple terms. It’s about a magic Advent calendar that tells how the story of Jesus was spread throughout the world.
A young boy called Jochaim tells the story in the present day, through the writings contained behind each day’s window of the old calendar. His story is about a young girl called Elisabet who travels back in time to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. The picture in each window portrays a character who joins the pilgrimage through the writings that day. Every day, after each window is opened and the story progresses, Jochaim discovers the whole picture has changed – as he learns more about the mysterious stranger who made the calendar and of a young girl who went missing on Christmas Eve 40 years ago.
It’s an interesting narrative technique and the story contains many thought-provoking analogies to the Bible’s relevance in today’s real-life terms. I am discovering some amazing insights into my own faith that I never thought about before. The book has taken me on a personal Advent journey of rediscovery… through the eyes of my child-self. An added bonus is that the Advent calendar’s images bring back a happy childhood memory for me that I’d almost forgotten about. Clever stuff eh? There is so much in it to discover. (If you know me personally and want to borrow my copy after the last window’s been opened – 24th December – please let me know via a comment on this post.)
A taster example: the wording at the onset of Day 17’s window… “many things have been done in the name of Jesus that Heaven is not very happy about…” (sound familiar?). And the final paragraph ends that day’s adventure with Joachim saying to his parents: “A Good Samaritan should have come to help them. Jesus wanted to teach people to help one another when any of them needed it. For peace is the message of Christmas.”
It was this message that reminded me of the friend I spoke about earlier and encouraged me to count my blessings rather than dwell on things in my life that I (and Heaven) am not very happy about. I aim to be more like my friend to others by being an imitation of Jesus through my actions… and thoughts too – because it’s thoughts that can drag us down sometimes and Satan really knows which buttons to push to test our faith once we’re down there.
To say I’ve been inspired by things I’ve come into contact with since my last blog is an understatement when I compare where I am now with where I was then. I’m really focussed on Jesus and prepared for Christmas. I’ve even bought a Christmas tree!
Just one thing remains for me to say and that is: May you all have the kind of Christmas you’re hoping for.
Come Lord Jesus, come.
The world is waiting for a love like yours.