Love is the essence of Christmas

Anne Abaysekara

There’s a lift to my spirits and a spring in my step.  My third son, the only one of my children abroad whom I hadn’t seen this year, called unexpectedly from Pennsylvania to tell me he was coming to spend Christmas with me.  His family are unable to come with him, but they are willing to spare him at this special time of year because it will give me joy.  The spirit of Christmas prompts people to do loving things for others.  It’s that season of loving and giving – not just to those we love, our families and friends, but for reaching out to those who have nothing to celebrate, because of their sad  — and sometimes desperate — circumstances.

 Jesus Christ was born in a stable and there was no fine layette prepared for Him. His mother, Mary, wrapped him in “swaddling clothes”, which means strips of cloth.  The only touch of grandeur was in the visit of the three kings or wise-men from the East. It was “the glory of the Lord” shining about them that brought the shepherds hastening to the manger.  In the majestic words of St. 0John, “ The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.  The Word  became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory………….”  

Indeed, the glory that was glimpsed by shepherds and kings, by Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist and by Mary the mother of Jesus herself, by the old man Simeon in the temple and the aged prophetess, Anna, has only grown brighter through the centuries to encompass thousands upon thousands ofpeople, most of them ordinary folk like you and I.     Some have been so transformed by the radiance of that light that their names standout in our consciousness  – Francis of Assisi, for instance, Father Van Diemen among the lepers, Grenfell of Labrador, Hudson Taylor and Gladys Alward in China, C.F. Andrews, Sadhu Sundar Singh and Pandita Ramabai in India, Martin Luther King, Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene, William Booth, George Muller, Kagawa of Japan, WatchmanNee of China, Dr. Tom Dooley of Laos, Evelyn Karney of Talawa, Mother Teresa. These are among the names we all know, but countless people lead lives of loving kindness and service to their fellows, with no thought of fame or reward, save their

Saviour’s “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.   For, whenever and wherever the

 hearts of women and men are touched by the love of Christ, there follows a burningconcern for the destitute and the disadvantaged, the orphaned and the old, the lonely and the sad.

  The glamour and glitter of today’s shopping malls and the so-called Christmas festivities in hotels, have nothing, really, do with Christmas,   “Christ is the reason for the season” and we need to remind ourselves of that.   He said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break in and steal.   But lay up for yourselves treasures in     heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there  will your heart be also.”    He uttered a solemn warning when he said, “Watch out and guard yourself against every kind of greed, because a person’s true life is not made up of  the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be.”

 The Great Commandment He gave us, was that we should love God with all our hearts and love our neighbour as ourselves and He related the parable of the Good Samaritan toshow that any person in need is our neighbour.   He gave us the Golden Rule, that we should treat others the way we would like them to treat us.  Towards the end, He said,

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you,” and, “If you have love for one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.”

 Christ was Love incarnate.   He loved the unlovely and the unloveable, whether an unclean leper or an unscrupulous tax-collecter or a sinful woman.   His compassion embraced all humankind. He exhorted His followers to feed the hungry, to minister to the sick, to clothe the naked, to show hospitality to the stranger, to visit those in prison and to comfort the sad

Praise be, there are more people than we know of, who do just that.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”, He said.   Laying do n His life for our salvation, He taught us, both by precept and by the example of His whole

life on earth, to forgive those who wrong us, to love our enemies, to bless those who

curse us and to pray for those who persecute us.  This is the Christ whom we gather

to worship and adore.

.     “Every time someone reaches out to help another, THAT is Christmas;  every time

someone puts anger aside and strives for understanding, THAT is Christmas;  every time

people forget their differences and realize their love for each other, THAT is Christmas.” 

May this Christmas bring us closer to the spirit of human understanding, closer to

genuine peace and reconciliation, closer to a recognition and acceptance of our common

humanity.  No greater birthday present could we offer Him.

             “To worship rightly is to love each other,

               Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.”

                                                                                                   

There’s a lift to my spirits and a spring in my step.  My third son, the only one of my

 

children abroad whom I hadn’t seen this year, called unexpectedly from Pennsylvania to

 

tell me he was coming to spend Christmas with me.  His family are unable to come with

 

him, but they are willing to spare him at this special time of year because it will give me

 

joy.   The spirit of Christmas prompts people to do loving things for others.  It’s that

 

season of loving and giving – not just to those we love, our families and friends, but for

 

reaching out to those who have nothing to celebrate, because of their sad  — and

 

sometimes desperate — circumstances.

 

     Jesus Christ was born in a stable and there was no fine layette prepared for Him. 

 

His mother, Mary, wrapped him in “swaddling clothes”, which means strips of cloth. 

 

The only touch of grandeur was in the visit of the three kings or wise-men from the East

 

It was “the glory of the Lord” shining about them that brought the shepherds hastening to

 

the manger.  In the majestic words of St. 0John, “ The light shines in the darkness and the

 

darkness has never put it out.  The Word  became flesh and dwelt among us and we

 

beheld His glory………….”   Indeed, the glory that was glimpsed by shepherds and

 

kings, by Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist and by Mary the mother of Jesus

 

herself, by the old man Simeon in the temple and the aged prophetess, Anna, has

 

only grown brighter through the centuries to encompass thousands upon thousands of

 

people, most of them ordinary folk like you and I.   

 

     Some have been so transformed by the radiance of that light that their names stand

 

out in our consciousness  – Francis of Assisi, for instance, Father Van Diemen among the

 

lepers, Grenfell of Labrador, Hudson Taylor and Gladys Alward in China, C.F. Andrews,

 

Sadhu Sundar Singh and Pandita Ramabai in India, Martin Luther King, Dr. Albert

 

Schweitzer in Lambarene, William Booth, George Muller, Kagawa of Japan, Watchman

 

Nee of China, Dr. Tom Dooley of Laos, Evelyn Karney of Talawa, Mother Teresa.

 

These are among the names we all know, but countless people lead lives of loving

 

kindness and service to their fellows, with no thought of fame or reward, save their

 

Saviour’s “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.   For, whenever and wherever the

 

hearts of women and men are touched by the love of Christ, there follows a burning

 

concern for the destitute and the disadvantaged, the orphaned and the old, the lonely and

 

the sad.

 

      The glamour and glitter of today’s shopping malls and the so-called Christmas

 

festivities in hotels, have nothing, really, do with Christmas,   “Christ is the reason for the

 

season” and we need to remind ourselves of that.   He said, “Lay not up for yourselves

 

treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break in and

 

steal.   But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth

 

corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there

 

will your heart be also.”    He uttered a solemn warning when he said, “Watch out and

 

guard yourself against every kind of greed, because a person’s true life is not made up of

 

thethings he owns, no matter how rich he may be.”

 

     The Great Commandment He gave us, was that we should love God with all our hearts

 

and love our neighbour as ourselves and He related the parable of the Good Samaritan to

 

show that any person in need is our neighbour.   He gave us the Golden Rule, that we

 

should treat others the way we would like them to treat us.  Towards the end, He said,

 

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you,”

 

and, “If you have love for one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.”

 

Christ was Love incarnate.   He loved the unlovely and the unloveable, whether an

 

unclean leper or an unscrupulous tax-collecter or a sinful woman.   His compassion

 

embraced all humankind.

 

      He exhorted His followers to feed the hungry, to minister to the sick, to clothe the

 

naked, to show hospitality to the stranger, to visit those in prison and to comfort the sad.

 

Praise be, there are more people than we know of, who do just that.  “Greater love hath

 

no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”, He said.   Laying down

 

His life for our salvation, He taught us, both by precept and by the example of His whole

 

life on earth, to forgive those who wrong us, to love our enemies, to bless those who

 

curse us and to pray for those who persecute us.  This is the Christ whom we gather

 

to worship and adore.

 

.     “Every time someone reaches out to help another, THAT is Christmas;  every time

 

someone puts anger aside and strives for understanding, THAT is Christmas;  every time

 

people forget their differences and realize their love for each other, THAT is Christmas.” 

 

May this Christmas bring us closer to the spirit of human understanding, closer to

 

genuine peace and reconciliation, closer to a recognition and acceptance of our common

 

humanity.  No greater birthday present could we offer Him.

 

             “To worship rightly is to love each other,

               Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.”

 

                                                                                                  

1 Comment

Filed under cultural transmission, reconciliation, unusual people

One response to “Love is the essence of Christmas

  1. Renton

    Thank you Mrs. Abeysekera for the love and joy you shared.

Leave a Reply to Renton Cancel reply