I have a rhythm game I play with my pupils at this time of year: it’s a seasonal version of Old MacDonald. Instead of the usual words, we have:
And on that sleigh he had…
It’s fair to say, though, that I’m often clueless about what I’d really like for Christmas; much to the frustration of my (now adult) offspring. Time with family and friends seems increasingly important, but it’s not something you can wrap up with a shiny ribbon and tuck under the tree. And while I recognise that exchanging gifts can be a valuable expression of such friendships – I love choosing presents for others – I don’t want to get so caught up in the frenzy of acquisition that I forget to consider the millions around the world who struggle to obtain even the basic necessities of life.
It’s a delicate balance: there’s nothing wrong with wanting to bless those closest to us, but if that’s all we do, then we’re missing out on the heart of the gospel. I suspect I’m not the only one who has found the news stories – filled as they are with human suffering and acts of hatred – overwhelming this year. There is so much need in our world that it feels difficult to know how to respond, and we may wonder if our efforts will make the smallest scrap of difference.
Two thousand years ago, the Jewish people were eagerly awaiting the coming of their Messiah. They wanted a strong and brave warrior king, a biblical super-hero who would drive out their enemies and make them into a great nation once more. But God in his wisdom sent not what they wanted, but what they needed, as an insignificant teenager gave birth to a tiny baby, who one day would become the means by which we were reconciled with God.
On behalf of ACW, may I wish you a peaceful and Christ-centred Christmas.
Fiona Lloyd works part-time as a music teacher, and serves on the worship leading team at her local church. Fiona self-published a violin tutor book in 2013 and blogs at www.fjlloyd.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter at @FionaJLloyd. Fiona is vice-chair of ACW and is married with three grown-up children.