With snow on the ground, twinkling lights on the light standards and Christmas trees, and increased congestion at the malls and other shopping establishments, you would almost think that it’s getting close to Christmas. I’m working on the assumption that it is still called Christmas, so for the remainder of this article I’ll use that name.
For many people the very name “Christmas” evokes a myriad of feelings and emotions, ranging from nostalgia, to joyfulness, to unsettledness, to sadness, even to anger; every emotion dependant on the experiences of the past. For some, the experience was one of disruption, or chaos, or even violence, therefore their reaction would be one of sadness or anger. It’s almost hard for me to understand that anger could prevail many years after a bad experience, but I have met many people whose memories are anything but pleasant.
Also you have the happy shoppers, the effusive decorators, and the gushing emotionalists who spend as much on gifts and decorating as the annual budget of many small countries. All this in an effort to sentimentalize a season as presented to us by people like Thomas Kincaid in his evocative art, not to mention the strenuous efforts of a little red fat man and his reindeer (he never could get that motorised vehicle to fly). You can even have greetings sent to your child from Santa; just send a name, picture, and your Visa number (along with the three digit security number printed on the back of the card for anyone to see), to such and such an address. This is but an all out effort to find happiness at this time of year.
Then you have those who celebrate the birth of this season’s namesake; Jesus of Nazareth. For this group, there is a different emotion or feeling; hope. Hope for the future, even for their daily life.
At Potters Hands, we are on a daily basis, confronted with those who have lost all hope; they are filled with sadness, great anger, and an insatiable desire to find meaning for their existence.
I recently wrote about a young woman who had become a ward of the street. Shortly after that article, incidents happened in her life resulting from alcohol abuse that left her extremely angry and ashamed so that during a church service, during which she was inebriated, she exploded in fear, shame, and anger. Efforts by many to calm her only produced more “f” bombs than there were planes to carry them, so great was her anger.
Finally one of the ladies in our congregation approached her and calmly introduced herself to this young woman and asked if she could buy her some breakfast. It was an extension of the grace we are taught about, and it was accepted. These two ended up spending the day together and this young woman learned about the hope that this grace extender lives with.
Since that day about three weeks ago, this young woman has not had a drink and is making a real effort to turn her life around. All because of a little bit of hope; hope that is the foundation of the season which we will soon celebrate. I pray that everyone who wants that hope finds it this Christmas.
As I see it. Chris

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