Joy to the World the Lord has Come
Christmas has always been a very special time of the year for me. In the Caribbean certain sounds, sights, food, and events are associated with the joyful season. One of our popular Christmas songs recall these sounds. There are the noises of Christmas. It is not loud; more like a hum, or echo in the air. Everyone and everywhere seems to reverberate with this special Christmas sound – the shoppers, Christmas cards, Christmas trees, the stores, decorations, special smiles and exchanges of good cheer. Everyone is joyful and happy.
Over the years, we tend to focus more on the material side of Christmas. There is Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and daily sales. Merchants estimate how much money they are going to make. Family and friends are disappointed at the gifts that they receive. So, amidst the frantic preparations that drain our energy and pockets, I want to share my thoughts of Christmas.
A Caribbean Christmas means the joy of reconnection. There are many Caribbean families living in other countries. Each year many of them return home to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. I enjoyed such a reconnection a few years ago, when many of our family members were together at Christmas in almost thirty years. It was a wonderful experience. Joy was overflowing.
Sadly, there are some families who are disconnected, losing touch over the years. The Christmas spirit, can help us to resolve petty differences, and bring us closer together through shared memories, increasing faith and love.
Christmas is a time to open our hearts and allow the spirit of forgiveness to enter. We should be forgiving of each other throughout the year, but at Christmas time there should be a greater focus. Listening to the hymns and carols of Christmas we are reminded of the real purpose for Christ coming.
Many selfish and petty issues cause discord among families. Unfortunately, these grievances can be heightened at Christmas time, sometimes resulting in fatal events. Sadly, there are times when death separates us before we can be reconciled. There is the grief of loss, and the despair of unforgiveness, that dampens our spirit.
There is a story of two armies having a cease-fire at Christmas time. The soldiers exchanged chocolate, cookies, and cigarettes with each other. Then they sang Silent Night. For those brief moments in time war was forgotten and memories shared.
Reconciliation is an important part of our Christmas celebrations which should continue throughout the year. There should be a greater emphasis on the spiritual than on the material.
Christmas is a time of rejoicing, of hope and love. The story of Christ’s birth is filled with praise. It begins with Mary, Elizabeth, Zachariah, the Shepherds, the angels, the Wise Men all giving thanks and praise for the good news. This is a time to rid ourselves of the sadness and despair that often overwhelms our daily lives. We should make a big effort to resist gloom and encourage hope, as this is the promise of Christmas.
The Carols, hymns, and songs of Christmas are bright and joyful. They lift our spirits and implore us to open our hearts to the joy of the season. We can rejoice because the angels’ song of “peace to his people on earth” is a promise that Jesus would unite all of us in love. Praise and rejoicing should be the cornerstone of our celebrations as we join with family and friends to share the joy of Christmas.
Gift giving is an integral part of our Christmas celebrations. No one wants to be Scrooge. We want that generous part of our nature to shine. Sometimes we go overboard, placing ourselves in debt or becoming depressed when we are unable to live up to our own expectations. However, we should remember that the most generous gift was given to us. God loves us and this was affirmed when he sent his Son to this earth.
The traditional giving of gifts at Christmas is an acknowledgment of the generous God who pardoned us and gave us a chance to receive everlasting life. Although gifts are the outward expression of our love to others. It should be remembered that a loving heartand kind deeds will last longer that the brightly wrapped packages. This Christmas and throughout the year we need to share Christ’s love generously with our fellowmen.
Our hymn of meditation reminds us that when Christ was born he brought joy into the world. The savior that had been promised throughout the ages had finally appeared. The world had eagerly anticipated his coming. Now he is here, and things have changed. On that first Christmas, there was also a sound. It was echoed in Israel where the people had waited many years for their Savior to come. One of our Christmas songs reminds us of the wonders of the season. Yet for many it, it is marked by depression, loneliness, separation, grief, and despair.
This Christmas, we need to refocus. Instead of the pointless, endless race of shopping, partying, eating and drinking, we should immerse ourselves in understanding the reason and meaning of Christmas. By bringing the glorious message of Christ birth into our hearts and homes, we can renew and energize our faith and hope. Let this Christmas be a holy day, where we worship the new born King.
Merry Christmas from my house to yours – Harriette Barker