10 December 2015
I love this time of year. Along with it you may be encountering heightened senses in the form of love, joy and thankfulness. In fact you might just be plain old ‘giddy’. In spite of a few situations that continue to tug defiantly at our heart strings, we’re there but for many others, it’s the opposite. Today, as I’m looking at our Christmas tree, I’m reminded of Christmas from many years in my past. Slowly the thoughts and memories trickle in like the delicious aroma of the year’s best meal. I didn’t know Jesus for most of those years but something strange and wonderful would always seem to gently lift my hopes and expectations.
When I was a little gaffer, Mom, Dad, my sister and I would pile into the station wagon with great anticipation and visit with family for fun times on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day we would usually stay home because conveniently, we had relatives living on both sides of us. We would go door to door, back and forth to each others homes enjoying plenty of food and making merry in the hopes that it would snow. Well at least I hoped it would. I don’t think that has ever been a problem in Finland though. Having been born and raised there, my wife Jaana and her family had some of their own unique Christmas traditions. Like us they would get up early and have breakfast together but soon after it was time to cut down the pre-chosen Christmas tree from the forest. Upon bringing it home, together with her Mom, Dad and two sisters, they would decorate it. Then it was off to the Christmas Church Candle Light service which included placing candles on the graves of relatives in remembrance of them. Apparently many candles were to be seen burning throughout the cemetery. It was then back home for a Christmas sauna and Christmas dinner but before eating, someone would always read Luke 2:1-20. Later on, some bearded dude would show up and make them sing for their presents lol…. I find that particularly funny because Jaana typically will not sing for anyone!! All of these events would take place on Christmas Eve. A very busy and blessed day indeed.
We both have fond memories and great love for friends and family with whom we have had the privilege to spend time with at Christmas. Many of them have passed on and for others, like us, life has changed and we simply don’t get to see each other much anymore. We miss them all and we will always cherish the memories. Life goes on and like this and every other year so far, there are presents under our Christmas tree. Greater gifts remain though…. Much greater such as love and life with friends and family on which you could never put a price or helping to make a difference in someone’s day or even their life!! My family never spoke of it, but I think in our own modest and indirect way, we were celebrating the greatest gift of all, Jesus.
Christmas isn’t about serving ourselves. It’s about celebrating and honouring the birth of Jesus. I wonder…how would He have us celebrate? I’m thinking He would selflessly reach out to as many people as possible with amazing results! As you probably know, He has already accomplished that in the greatest way ever!! It’s because of His great sacrifice and the amazing grace and love that God richly provides every day that we are inspired to want to help make a difference in this crazy world. Jesus is the only reason for the season and by sharing His incredible love, you can give the gift of hope that transcends throughout this and every other year. Nothing would put a bigger smile on our faces than to help make life better for someone this time, or any other time of year for that matter.
My prayer is for our families, our communities and our city to transform and they can because of the great life changing love Jesus has for us. With just a little extra effort, we can put forth that love and help make Christmas better for so many. As for us, with hospitality and music at the forefront, our door and our hearts are always open. We have plenty of hot apple cider and I think there is a sale on sirloin roasts this week at Food Basics too. Almost half price!! But I warn you, once the dominoes or the ping pong paddles come out, it’s game on!!
May God bless you always and may you and your family enjoy the greatest Christmas ever 🙂
Dan and Jaana Dyer