Wise words for Christmas gatherings
We celebrate Christmas because we honor and love Christ Jesus, who showed us that Love is truly and only all there is. He introduced God's new world, brought a solution and antidote to every human challenge possible, and left a rich legacy for us to explore. The Christ is still saying today: "Let me help you and show you a wider view. God is Love, and Love is all. Pure and simple." God is all good, and in the best of worlds this truth is the only reason we come together and celebrate.
In our Christian culture the Christmas Season is about family gatherings, charity, about friends meeting and taking care of the lonely - all coming together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the advent of the Christian era. Peaceful and full of light. And then there is a part of the Christmas season that tries to overshadow the humility of the sharing of love: the anticipation of challenges that are expected when people come together who don't spend much time with each other during the year or don't know each other in the first place. You might have noticed comments or read about them - stereotypes about the mother-in-law, parents, uncles, aunts, stereotypes about eating too much, the talk about 'the good old days'", etc. You get the idea and see why more people than you might think dread the Christmas Season for obvious reasons.
And here is a fresh take on this topic: We can consult an expert in relationships and put his guidelines to good use this Christmas season. This expert has an outstanding and proven record in community building, Christian mentoring, healing, and keeping up the standard of good even under difficult circumstances - f.e. a cheerful heart while in prison or a patient mind while being sidelined by others talking too much.
This expert is Paul. Paul reminds us of God being all, honors the goodness of Life, Love, never forgets what he owes to Jesus, and encourages us to share the Christ love with others. This means, in Paul's view, to give up the search for the love or respect from others, but to give it freely in the light of divine Love. In order to be direct and not to be mistaken, he prepared something which we today might call "a bullet point" list.
Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part.
Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs.
And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other.
Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.
This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 5. The Message)
There is no other reason to meet anybody for Christmas (or beyond) than to bless - to do good to others, to listen, to let the other rise and shine. In short, the reason for any interaction with anyone is giving and not getting. Loneliness is not a reason to accept an invitation, self-importance is not a reason, human will is not a reason, kinship is not a reason, tradition is not a reason, custom is not a reason. The only reason is Love. Listen to Love and let Love tell you where your place is this Christmas. Jesus spent his years on this planet making people happy, and as Christians we join his life-purpose. But whom we bless and where we might be needed is up to God.
So may your days be free and happy - "attentive to individual needs", filled with goodness and the unique joy which lights up the heart when we look out for the best in each other. Or, as Kate Mullane Robertson puts it in a poetic way, which only she can do:
"There is nothing more beautiful than the eyes of someone who is seeking beauty in others."
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In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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