Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Starlight

It's shining all over the place this month:

- a seven year old boy’s giggle at the way the nutcracker soldier spurts out peanut shells from between his painted wooden teeth
- a neighbour’s gift of baking, apricot-coconut cookies, tightly wrapped, and an I.O.U. for a homemade pie, on request.
- the car radio broadcasting classical hymns of praise to the Mystery who came in baby Jesus.
-  winter sunrise in the southern sky, sparkling the frosted garden's dead stalks
- cheerful clerks and customers exchanging patient smiles despite long line-ups, wishing each other a merry Christmas
- choirs, choirs, and more choirs, offering, like the angels, their Hallelujah song, ”Don’t be afraid; there’s good news!” 
- sweet sounds of Salvation Army bells, still caring for the poorest of God’s children 150 years after the Booth family first enlisted platoons of helpers
- baby-faced toddlers lolling on a stage, dressed as adorable woolly lambs in church pageants…each faithfully rehearsed by eager, tired parents…all to help tell the old story again
- thousands upon thousands of volunteers handing out gifts to needy families, serving turkey dinners to lonely folks on Christmas Day, packing boxes of encouragement for women’s shelters and prisoners’ children.
- gentle “Blue Christmas” services, lovingly designed for those who grieve at this time of year…so many clergy, musicians and lay leaders serving with compassion.
- a five year old grinning delightedly over secret presents she has hidden for her grandparents

These shining star-beams are easy to spot during December in Canada.

Wise seekers watch for other stars, too. Hiding in the everyday dark are a million lights invisible to you and me. 
Lights like:

- a man who gives away thousands of dollars every year because he is so grateful for what the Christmas infant/God incarnate has given to him.  
- a woman who frees Thai children from brothels because, through Christ, she has found personal freedom. 
- a brave few who reach out to their enemies because Jeshua of Nazareth broke down barriers between Jews and gentiles.
- many more, whose faith in Jesus, Friend of the poor, moves them to befriend the unpopular, the odd, the criminal and the emotionally needy.
- intimate moments of forgiveness offered by folks who choose God's way: "Forgive each other as God has forgiven you."
- Christian counsellors and therapists who do more than listen supportively, because when the moment is right, they can whisper good news… there is Someone who will never desert, never abandon, never ignore aching wounds.
These lights gleam in secret, every day, all year round.

We Christ-followers would be fools to claim to shine brighter than others at acting justly and loving mercy. That is not true. 
What we gladly affirm is this. Any flickering light we shine, comes from the Eternal Light who blazed into human life as a fragile newborn. We are merry because God so loved the world.