Once upon a time, it was that only really important people needed and received reminders as part of their daily lives; normally they were delivered by some sort of human personal assistant. These days we are awash in reminders. Messages reminding us that a sale is coming; that a bill is due; that it’s time for the meeting to begin; that our prescription needs a refill and so on. Recently on a long drive, the car reminded me that it was time for me to take a break as I’d been driving too long. Go figure!
As Christians heading into the Christmas Season, we have our own reminders. Important messages about how we are called to create God’s kingdom here on earth, and about which we need a gentle poke each year. Here’s my, somewhat abbreviated, list:
We need to remember that the Son of God chose to come to earth as a defenseless baby in a poor family, versus a person of power and means. A clarion call to us that Jesus is, and always will be, with those on the margins of life, who have no choice but to depend on God’s providence. Hence when Jesus taught the apostles to pray, it was for “daily bread”, in part because that’s what the poor have to do. It was also a message to us to live in the present moment, to realize that everything we have is a gift.
We need to remember Jesus message that while He said we would always have the poor, He was clear in parables such as the lost sheep (Luke 15), that no one should be comfortable or complacent as long as there are those in need. That we each must in our own way, reach out to try and ensure everyone in our human family has enough to live with dignity. We are not expected to save the world, merely to do our bit. And if you don’t know any lost sheep, that might be part of the issue as there are plenty out there. And while it is natural to want a comfortable life (sign me up!), we need to remember that the more we are separated from the poor, the greater the challenge to our relationship with God.
We need to remember amidst all the presents, that God has gifted us with so much. God created the earth to be a planet filled with abundant natural resources and populated it with wonderfully gifted people who dazzle us with unimaginable inventions. However, we also need to see that some of us are hoarding resources as fast as God is making them available, thereby depriving many of God’s gifts. Amidst the commercial bombardment convincing us of all the stuff we need to be happy, we must try and listen to the gospel message of inclusiveness and sharing that will lead us and our sisters and brothers to true happiness.
And finally we must remember never to be cynical about Christmas. Yes, we can get stressed about the gifts to be bought, especially for those struggling with financial issues, or with the arrangements for Christmas dinner (who’s going to be invited…..or not), the increased demands on our time and so forth. People can be heard to say that Christmas isn’t what it used to be. Well the good news is that Christmas hasn’t changed: Jesus still comes to us each year, inviting us to remember His message. And obviously we can’t go back to some idyllic version of Christmas, that probably never existed anyway, but we can help create a Christmas for our world today. One where everyone gets a visit from “Santa Claus”, and where no one is completely satisfied as long as there are lost sheep.
There’s a verse from the Irish poet W.B. Yeats that I heard someone use in a presentation:
Praise God and God’s mother Dathi said,
For God and God’s mother have sent,
The blessedest souls that walk in the world,
To fill your hearts with content.
This year, may we all try and be one of those blessed souls.
Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus.