Christmas is a big deal in our house. Obviously, having kids we have found it easy to slip into the festival for years, but that’s barely the beginning. My wife loves Christmas. Just about every aspect of the festival delights her. There’s a standing rule that the tree is not allowed up before December 1 and by the time that date rolls around, my darling is already struggling to hold herself back.
The house gets decorated as well, but it’s complicated by my son’s birthday, which is in early December, so many of the early decorations are a mixture of birthday and Christmas. Once the birthday passes – usually with the force and impact of a tornado – then we gear up for Christmas proper. Cleaning, cooking, shopping etc. It’s a hectic but happy time. Our family traditionally bakes biscuits, shortbread and gingerbread, as gifts; we host many of our family and do a traditional roast dinner with what seems like a mountain of vegetables and side dishes. This probably doesn’t sound too unusual, but we live in Australia, so cooking a roast on a hot summer’s day is sometimes a labour. I’m the cook in the house, so between welcoming guests and sitting down to lunch, it’s not unusual for me to change my shirt once or twice, because I’m soaked in sweat. It’s great fun, a bit like wrestling a mighty foe and forcing it to deliver Christmas joy to my family.
This year the lead up is complicated by the fact that I’m ill and most of the rest of the family is as well. My daughter has a new job and won’t be able to help as much in the lead up. It’s looking difficult on the way in and a part of me is looking forward to 3pm Christmas day, when lunch is eaten and I can sit and rest. But I find I am not afraid. For so much of my life I have been blessed with family; tough, complicated and often painful, but a blessing nonetheless and I have accepted all the hard work done on my behalf at times like Christmas. Now it’s my turn. My wife’s mother can’t do any Christmas for herself and neither can my parents. This year we’ve also got the chance to invite an overseas student from my daughter’s university who won’t get to go home for the holiday. This is our chance to obey the Lord.
“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'”
Now is my chance to invite those I know cannot repay me – or have already sacrificed to me and whom I owe. Thinking of this, I find myself more eager for the day once again. There will be presents and food, but that’s not what I want for me. I want the service. I want to obey my Lord and give. Even going in tired, His command sends me on and I can feel his Spirit lifting me to make the effort, strengthening my arm to the task.
The Lord’s blessing to one and all this Christmas. If you are suffering, may the day bring you respite; if you are alone, may companionship find you; if you are broken, may His love heal you; if you feel overwhelmed, remember we serve the Lord of Hosts and he sends His army to fight beside you day and night.
In Jesus Name