We remember with great affection the people who made a real difference to our lives. We are forever grateful to them for their kindness. As we look to Christmas we reflect on the difference that the coming of Christ makes to the world. I like to reflect, in particular on two gifts Christ brings us. One is the gift of new life and the second is the gift of peace.
Like to-day, the world of the Roman Empire, into which Christ was born, was a world that had grown tired of itself. We have all seen tree stumps, in varying stages of decay, in paddocks, beside streams and on barren hillsides. Sometimes when we stop to look, we see a green shoot; new life emerging from the old and abandoned stump. Is it possible, that we see ourselves as stumps in the winter of our lives? We’ve done our bit. Yet, this dead wood can become green again. We can still contribute. The coming of Christ encourages us to find a new and more life-giving way of being. Along with nature we too can bloom again in spring.
The Old Testament Jews looked to the coming of the Messiah as the dawn of a new era of peace and harmony in the world. They looked forward to a time when the animals of forest and the animals of the plain would come together in peace and companionship. The wolf and lamb would lie down together. The lion and kid would be friends with the weak offering hospitality to the strong. The cow and the bear would be neighbours and the calf and the lion cub would browse together.
The use of animals as metaphors, invites us to think about our relationships. These images point to a wonderful reconciliation that the coming of Christ brings. The way forward for nations and peoples will not be through power, but through playfulness, or a creativity that allows all to participate as equals. Advent is a call to the inner child in us to recapture the spontaneity, the trust and truthfulness that are the gifts of the Child Jesus.
May we find new life and energy this Christmas and may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding be in our hearts and minds.