16 August 2018
As I walked up the garden path I noticed the changes. Sarah had been busy during the year. The garden was full of lavender, roses spilled over the steps and the scent of daphne filled the air. The door was open and a cheery voice said to enter.
She sat at the computer, "Hello, I?m just sending a note to David and Olofa and their family." Her family was scattered around the world this year, only the youngest was at home for Christmas.
Over the coffee cups with freshly baked muffins she began to talk, "I?ve got the decorations out, I?ve started decorating the tree, but it hardly seems worth it," she sighed deeply, "there?s only the three of us and our youngest is going away straight after Christmas ?" her voice trailed off ."I still miss Mother, although its been two years since she's gone, she always loved Christmas.
Somehow, it seems silly, but I?m beginning to feel lonely. Christmas has been that one time when everyone has come and the whole family has been together. I could even welcome Great Uncle John who always snored through the Queen?s speech and had a disgusting habit of spitting on the garden, but he died during the year. There are too many memories at Christmas." She looked sadly out the window and her eyes brimmed with tears.
The door burst open and her son came in with a friend to see the tree. A shy boy held back behind him. "Nana! Ishan has come to see." Ishan came forward awkwardly. "Ishan and his family haven?t got anyone to spend Christmas with, can they come for dinner?" My friend looked startled, "I?ll talk to Ishan?s Dad she said".
I was told that Ishan?s dad and sister were refugees. They had fled from certain death in their homeland and could not return. They were waiting for the government to give them refugee status but it was seven years now and they were still waiting to hear. This year was the crunch year. Ishan?s sister had started university but could not enroll next year because she didn?t have a passport. She had been at a local school for all her secondary schooling and was in all but status a New Zealander. Now she couldn?t carry on but had to sit at home and do nothing, "and she has so much potential".
"You know they can?t go back, a girl brought up in New Zealand couldn?t survive in their country, The women aren?t allowed to study or work and they?ve become Christians. They?d be killed if their people knew this. Apparently nothing can be done, the government?s backlog is so great that they will wait three years and during that time the children can?t enroll in any tertiary institution without a passport".
Sarah looked thoughtfully at the nativity scene under the tree. Did something move? The angel on the tree fluttered in the wind ? good news peace on earth. "Someone took them in and gave them space. He was a refugee, that child had to flee persecution. -", she whispered softly, "of course they can come to dinner and for Christmas, but maybe I need to do more. The Story is about justice and me as well isn?t it? I will welcome the child"
The lights on the tree came on and two faces peeped round the corner. They?d found the switch. The room filled with the soft light of many colours . The scent of the garden came as the breeze stirred and the song of the angels was in the hearts of those who heard.
The Christmas story is about the real world. Long ago one more human baby was delivered and greeted the world with crying. This Jesus showed us the true God dealing with real human beings with a saving grace that can make all things new. Christmas faith is not a fairy tale faith. It is for real people of flesh and blood.
Let us, this Christmas, welcome the Christ child into our hearts..
Come now, Lord Jesus, enter our Christmas
be to us no stranger in this new-made manger.
Come, small and human, born of a woman,
yet a Son much greater of our own Creator.
Come, cold and crying, comfort denying,
no place to receive you, few yet to believe you.
Come, poor and simple, our flesh your temple,
in your body feeling hurt as well as healing.
Come, gift and token, bread to be broken -
star and sign still point you, myrrh will yet anoint you.
© Shirley Murray
May God bless you and keep you
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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