Most Christian families at this time of the year have a huge, maybe small, christmas tree in their living rooms, decorated to the nines with shiny balls, colourful lights and ridiculous ones, or shall i say, those who like to personalize theirs have balls with their own pictures hanging from the poor thing's hapless branches.
huge red stockings are hanging on banisters and children know to sleep early on christmas eve and give Santa, a poor fat, swealtering dude from the north pole, always dressed a thick red and white snow outfit with a figure belt, and has a nice bushy moustache that last saw the razor back when Jesus was born, a chance to come down the chimney on christmas eve night, on a sleigh pulled by reindeers with wild antlers and deliver presents that were requested by a letter posted to him by all little boys and girls who have been very good the whole year though.
boxes and packages wrapped in shiny paper and labelled with family members, friend's and beloveds' names are already sitting under the tree, or getting ready to. the turkey has already been stuffed and puddings and fruit cake have been prepared a week in advance, and people are coming for christmas lunch, and maybe drinks later and good old fun just being together as families. in most loxion households, christmas clothes were bought for all kids as early as three months ago, and most parents murdered their savings and budgets buying labels like Nike and Puma for 5 year olds and Blackberry cellphones for teenagers who don't understand the financial value of the gifts profered. teenagers have already put together thousands of rands in preparation of couples outings with copious amounts of alcohol already purchased, and the local chinese butchery in Soweto has exhausted its chops and coal supply as braais all over community parks are planned, and people get ready for christmas.
but what exactly does christmas mean, and why are we being so fussy about it? why must we buy new clothes for all kids every year, spend money and all that food and alcohol, and plan to have a jol and be happy? is it just year-end parties that we are looking forward to, or the celebration of the birth of the Christ? and why?
today i went to church, and my pastor's sermon was based on John 3 verse 16, and many christians know this verse by heart from Sunday school way back when. 'For God so loved the world, that he gave of his only son, that whosoever believed in him should not perish but have an everlasting life.' but the most important thing about this statement is the next verse, 17. it says :'God did not send his son TO CONDEMN the world, but in order that THE WORLD MIGHT BE SAVED THROUGH HIM.'
God had it all good in heaven, and he could very well afford to sit in his heavenly mansion looking at his son, waiting for us to die and get to judgement day, where he would highlight all our sins and we would feel so guilty and ashamed, before he sent us all on our rotten way to hell. BUT God created us in his image, and he loved the world so much, he gave of the very best that he had, so we might have a chance to live a good life, without guilt and condemnation. he could very well have sent Angel Gabriel to die for us, but Gabriel was not God's most valuable possession. Jesus is the ONLY son of God, his heir, a part of God, and he was sent in the human form to relate to us in a way that we would understand, to look like us, live amongst us. Jesus was the very best that God could give as a sacrifice for the people that he loved. the same as Abraham was required to offer his only son as a sacrifice, yet he was the promise God had made unto him. why give the very best?
Christmas is a story of love. and the kind of love God has for us. a love that does not point fingers of accusation and expect justification for past mistakes. God knows we are not perfect beings, that's why he sent Christ for us. he does not expect us to be perfect. we are weak, critical humans and all we care about is getting more and more of everything, and holding on to past wrongs done to us, and who was there for us and who wasn't, revenge and recriminations. but Christmas is a story of love. so today, look back on everything that has gone wrong. everyone who has hurt you, caused you pain, real or imagined. go back to your family, and look at them. remember all the hurt they caused you, or you caused them. remember broken promises and dreams, and the anger you have against them. at your workplace, look at your colleagues. all the gossiping done behind your back. all the backstabbing. take all the darkness, all the pain, and give it to Jesus.
he was brought to the world to carry all that for you. turn your back on all the pain and the darkness, and make a choice of love. you know, and they know, they do not deserve it. but because you are choosing love, just like God did, open your heart and give your very best. lose face, and beg for reconcilliation and forgiveness, even if you were not the cause of the problem. forgive and forget, and choose a new beggining. when you eat the turkey, and pudding, and exchange the gifts, let your biggest gift be from your heart. the gift of love. share a meal in memory of the gift that God gave us, of his precious son, that your family may be good again. that you may start afresh, on a positive, hopeful note. and do it every year. instead of giving a cellphone to your teenager, forgive the father whom you haven't talked to for years. forgive your mom for neglecting you, and your neighbour for letting their dogs in your yard. forgive your ex for lying, for cheating, and forgive without expecting an apology. let your gift to the world around you be that of love. this, for me, is the real story of Christmas. i am now going back to my home, which is in God. and if i believe my conviction that i am Christian, it starts with me.
Merry Christmas everybody, i choose to love all of you.
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