If we have learned nothing from the past two years, post arrival of the dreaded covid-19 virus, it is that we have all needed to make some sort of change to the way in which we live our lives. That is to say that every single member of the human race has had to come to terms with the fact that life as we knew it, was no longer the life that we now know it to be.

Each time that any hopes, dreams or wishes for plans made, have suddenly (often not logically) been changed, I need to remind myself that this is not a “personal vendetta”, but rather that this whole sorry mess is as a result of our burgeoning humanity, one that does not take well to being told NO!

So too with the season of family and festivity, that I have had to change my perspective: instead of looking to the big picture of a united family, celebrating the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, I have had to get right down to the basics of the proverbial “reason for the season”, so often bandied about. 

As a committed Christian, I am more aware than ever of the growing distancing of humanity from our God of all creation. Here in The Netherlands, it is sad to witness the ever growing number of churches that are de-consecrated through falling numbers of congregants. Having said that though, I am deeply aware of the reasons and excuses for these fast declining numbers of attendees at regular church services, covid restrictions aside, as I too am one of those numbers who no longer attend regular worship. Online church services, thanks to the advancements of technology, have been a go-to for many believers. But, it is more and more evident that RELIGION is “the bad apple in the basket”. Organized religion is a man-inspired notion of how humanity should honour God and, I believe that this “new world” that we find ourselves living in, has said enough to that sort of dogma, rigour and prejudice.

More than ever, man is crying out for a Saviour from all that we know to be taking place on the planet. Que the angelic choir because the answer is almost ready to make His entrance onto the world stage in the form of the Christ child in the manger.

This came into fairly sharp focus as I helped one of my clients to set up their Christmas decorations, including a nativity set. I have found it an added delight to delve into dusty boxes of decorations that have lovingly been gathered and stored over the years of a family’s life. To witness the warmth of memory filling the faces of those whose memories have faded really is a privilege.

Whilst I was fixing the string of lights around the little wooden stable of the nativity set, I got down to eye level with the table, and thus with the floor of the stable. Right in front of me lay the tiny manger, filled with hay, upon which rested the very tiny little baby Jesus doll – somewhat disfigured after so long an integral part of this particular family’s Christmas decoration set up! Needless to say, it was something of an “aha-moment” in that as familiar as I am with the Christian Christmas story, that I love so much, I am more aware than ever of the damaged and disfigured world that us humans inhabit, not unlike that “handicapped” baby doll, to use the words of my dear client!

This year is a call, louder than ever before, to change our perspective to the REAL reason for the season. If not to have the courage to reach out and help others in our communities, then at least to look inward and to make the personal changes that will give us that courage to do so in the future.

Signing off on this third Sunday in Advent – certainly not from the perspective of theology, but more from the perspective of the anticipation of the Christmas gift, birthed so many hundreds of years ago, for the sake of all humanity.

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