Christmas eve

Let's use the picture pastor illustrated in the sermon on Sunday. A house at night, crowded with people, loud music pumping, everyone laughing and having a good time celebrating Christmas. Chilling, snow and darkness outside, with Jesus knocking on the door and no one being able to hear him. Celebrating Jesus' birthday but not inviting him in.

You kind of wonder, what are non-Christians celebrating? A public holiday, a reason to get drunk and party? Santa and his reindeers? The mistletoe, the bright lights, the trees, stars, bells? I don't understand why people sing "Joy to the World" or "Silent Night" if they don't agree with the truth of the lyrics. It's easier to understand if I think about why festivals are celebrated at all. A time to exchange gifts, enjoy the colourful culture and traditions, gather with family and friends, to love and feel loved.

Christmas has changed for me over the years. I really enjoyed making the decoration, doing the activity sheets, the colourful hats and the performances of kids songs when I was in primary school. Oh yes, most of all... the gifts! In high school I loved the food (woohoo dinners and restaurants galore), Christmas shopping with mum's money, writing and receiving cards from my friends. Now? Not sure. Feels like there isn't all the pre Christmas preparation / hype, and that it just comes so suddenly.


I haven't had this problem for awhile. Before I used to confide in mum, then in (less than a handful of) close friends friends at different stages over the years. The other night I felt terribly lonely that I had no one to talk to about my day, my thoughts and feelings. How quickly I forget:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

Something else I realised recently. I've heard the Christmas story many times but during today's sermon it was a little different. Wouldn't others think Mary's a liar or lunatic if she claimed she was conceived by the holy spirit? Pretty bad excuse for being pregnant. How did it affect her relationship with Joseph? Was he disappointed? Sad? As I am Mary in the Christmas play I asked jokingly whether I had to play the part of her giving birth. But for the first time I thought, oh, she had to give birth, probably painful and messy like any other birth. Surprisingly how much you can flesh out the story. Does that come with experience, does it come with maturity, or a loss of child-like innocence?

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