Thoughts on the Word:
I remember as a child my eager anticipation at the coming of Santa Claus, I would diligently go to bed early on Christmas eve, and be up as early as I thought I could get away with ... often times it was still dark when I would sneak out into the lounge room and begin to rummage through the presents looking for mine... What had the big red fella brought me this time?!... Christmas was a joyful time for me, I have some wonderful memories of water fights and back yard cricket on Christmas day, and some great memories of time spent with family and friends. However it also always had a time of disappointment... that moment when you realised - that's it, I don't have any more presents. It is easy to see why people don't think there is any need for Jesus in Christmas nowadays, we as a society have turned it into a cultural celebration of getting rather than a commemoration of giving. When I look back now I wonder how much more joyful it could have been if the real meaning of Christmas had been a part of our celebrations, if only I had understood then that Christmas meant that I could accept a gift that would last for eternity...
It is an amazing thing, when you consider the gift which Christ gave us on that very first Christmas. He gave us himself in human form - in the words of St Paul, he 'humbled himself', in order to be born as one of us. Jesus we must remember was already a part of the Trinity, he was in Heaven, where he had been for eternity - and he chose to become one of us and be born as a human baby in order that he might reconcile us to God. He knew before he came what the end result would be also - can you imagine the amount of love it takes to make a voluntary choice to remove yourself from a place of eternal bliss, where there is no pain, no suffering... to make a decision to to leave that existence to be born as a helpless infant, knowing that you would grow - going through all the pain, suffering and temptation that all humans go through - and knowing that your reward for this choice would be the tortuous death of crucifixion... what a love is this... and what a gift!
In this week's readings we see that much preparation went into the offering of this gift... John the Baptist was born with the specific purpose to prepare the way for the Lord, the same Lord which his father sings of in our reading from Luke 1. Isaiah foretold of his coming and of John's role in preparing the way... There was much thought that went into this gift, and much pain and suffering in its delivery. Yet all we are called to do is accept it - no strings attached. If we accept this free gift of love offered to us by God, we become not only forgiven - but we become heirs and inheritors of the Kingdom!
Why then I wonder aren't more of us who have accepted this gift like John? Why in this world of consumerism are we not proclaiming the Gospel louder than ever? Why, brothers and sisters are we not preparing the way for the Lord? We have been given a gift - a gift of love greater than anything we could imagine - and we have the ability to pass that gift on to those around us... what is great about this gift is that when we re-gift it we also get to keep it!
So, as we continue on our journey of preparation for the coming of the Lord - let's be voices crying in the wilderness of consumerism 'prepare the way for the Lord'. Let's ensure that Christmas is not just a happy time of 'getting' let's proclaim the message that it is a commemoration of the giving of the greatest gift ever - what better time than now could there be to give someone the gift of salvation through Jesus?
I pray that the God whose love far surpasses our understanding will richly bless you and yours during this continuing time of Advent.