| Dec 18, 2008

Christmas 2008 - A Christmas Message

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Christmas Edition - December 18, 2008Christmas 2008

Christmas Art Contest

Christmas Cakeby John Diamond

Christmas Messageby Rev. Jean Brown

Christmas Celebrations:a Photo Gallery

Early Literacy:Christmas Books

Festival Of Trees

How Chanuka Saved Christmas

Interview with Maryby Pastor Jeff Nault

Legalese:Holiday Legal Quiz

Prince Charles Students Talk about Christmas


Remounting ofa Long Short Story

The Special Giftby Hope Attaway

A Christmas messageby Rev. Jean Brown, United Church of Canada

As we busily engage in this holiday season of good-will, is it possible to slow down and to reflect on our Christmas memories? Looking back on Christmas at Manitoulin Island, my home of origin, I recall with fondness buying presents at the one and only local store in our village of 300 people, trying to bravely sing carols at the local out-post hospital with our Sunday School class and experiencing both fear and wonder in that setting, getting up a pageant with our Sunday School teachers and marveling at all the details involved, and, of course, trying to find that one perfect gift for our school bus driver. All of these memories take me back to a simpler time and place when Christmas was so very marvelous. It seemed that it took forever to come, and that it all mysteriously happened while we kids played, anticipated, wrote down what presents we wanted, and tried desperately to be good. With hind sight, now I know all the effort that went into it all, and I'm both amazed and embarrassed at how little we kids actually used to do to get ready and how much was actually given to us – a fabulous dinner, plenty of gifts, family gathering, skating on the frozen lake, lots of laughs and a safe and secure haven in which to grow up. Mostly I'm thankful for the gift of my faith in God, and for the fact that in life, in death and in life beyond death that God is with us all. My Mom insisted on a religious emphasis for every season, allowing us all at a very young age to learn that gifts were given because of the gift of the Christ Child who was given gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and to also realize that family is a gift from God and that sacred family ties must be preserved and honoured.

Now at the advanced age of 58 years, I ponder anew the miracle of Christmas every year, and wonder just how Jesus Christ would like us to celebrate His birthday. In a season when we are tempted to over spend, hide away in eating, drinking, partying; when nerves are frayed and when tensions run high, it is a good idea to pause and to examine that first Christmas when two frightened young parents gave birth to the Saviour in a barn, were visited by shepherds, wise men and angels and then had to flee for their lives. The joyous birth is overshadowed by an element of fear and an element of suffering as the little boy does grow up to face the agony of death on a cross at the tender age of 33 years. It's important to let the Christ child grow up and to let Him handle our fears, and our suffering, and our doubts along with our joys, so that Christmas can become a time of renewal and a stepping stone to guide us through the joys and the sorrows of life on earth. Letting Christ grow up and grow in our hearts frees us to decide and to respond to His ideas and ideals and to risk shaping our lives so they reflect our faith in God. May our Christmas celebrations be a life long process of responding to God and opening ourselves to new possibilities and may God bless us all.

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