How was your Christmas?


In a December reflection, I mentioned of my plan to ignore the rush of Christmas. I was going to sit in the stable in silence and prayer with the holy child.

It was going to be a personal retreat.

But it didn’t happen.

There were too many wise men and women, too many shepherds. The angel song was loud and competing with commercial advertising, and the stable door was blocked with Christmas trees and tinsel.

Entry to a place of peace came on Boxing Day.

Was your Christmas also like that?

Then, like me, you are now reflecting on all that noise and messiness and finding with surprise that Jesus was being born in every part of it.

I should know by now that He doesn’t conform to our rules.

Here we were, trying to find time to visit the stable, when He was out there in the streets, the shops, hospitals, pubs, homes and churches.

He travelled in planes. He visited prisons.

He was everywhere.

Looking back, I recognise the times my old heart melted with his newborn touch.

So now, I will list a few experiences and suggest you do the same.

You too, will have encountered him in unexpected places, so here are the pre-Christmas memories that I hold and treasure.

  • Three primary schools sing waiata and do haka with beautiful enthusiasm. Some children are Maori, some Pakeha or Indian, Asian, Amercian. Their performance was professional. I was so pleased to see several politicians in the audience.
  • A man on the street begs for money to take his dog to the vet. I don’t think he has a dog, but he knows that passers-by are more sympathetic to dogs than to beggars. We talk for a while and I hear Jesus saying “The son of man has no place to lay his head.”
  • A teenager is playing her violin in the train station. She is playing carols. A mother with a child of about three years of age, has stopped to listen. The little boy is dancing to the music. I think, Did Jesus dance? Well, he does now.
  • Two women bring lovely cloth placemats they have made. On each mat, there is the handprint of one of their children. Such treasure! The children will grow, but the mats will always portray them as I knewthem. I think of Jesus’ hands at various stages, small, exploring his surroundings, healing others, breaking bread, and being wounded by nails.

Before Christmas, I needed to sort papers, including lots of letters from schoolchildren. One from a girl in California, asked all the usual questions.

  • What is your favourite colour?
  • What is your favourite food?
  • The last question was the most interesting. Are you still alive?

That last question connected me to Jesus. Of course He is still alive.

The birth of the Christ child is in all of us.

We may not be aware of it but there will be times when we say, “Where did that cone from?” or
“Why do I feel this way?

It is then that we realise that Christmas is not a historical view of a holy child born in an animal shelter.

The birth is here and now, and we are all stables.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator. Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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