Christmas – a time so full of memories. It can be a wonderful time, but for some it is a very lonely and therefore a painful time.
When I first took ‘the wings of the morning’ and found myself, a ‘Singleton’, in the Highlands of New Guinea, it could have been tough, but we have a wonderful God who wants to teach us contentment.
Since Mary and I had left the religious movement in which we had been brought up, Christmas had become a difficult time, but there had been healing over the years, and I was looking forward to the gift of us four siblings being together with our Mother before I left this land, maybe for good. Alas, it did not work out.
Now, living in the wonderful mountains of New Guinea, and hearing the ‘bello’ calling us to church, I realised just how good God had been in permitting that sad, tearful Christmas day back in the ‘old country.’ God now was teaching me that Christmas is not dependant on family gatherings. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord.
These people, called out of a stone age civilisation, and needing and loving the same Saviour as we do, were now my family. The other single missionaries, mostly from down under, in a special way, were family too and after joyful service in the church we celebrated together. Godliness with contentment was God’s special gift to me that Christmas.
No it was not a Christmas of indulgence and feasting. The roads were long and dusty, and when we arrived unannounced, the service might be over, but the people soon gathered again and what a time of joy and celebration. Our Saviour, born in poverty and laid in a manger, was present among us, our risen Lord.
But what about a Christmas dinner? I was starving.
We stopped at a wayside stall and the pastor bought us a coconut each. I had never had such a delicious drink. It satisfied my hunger and thirst. Jesus’ birthday had been different, but special that year too.
My own family are too frail to gather with me now, as they have done of recent years, but Joel left me the heritage of a loving family and I am loved and welcome in their hearts and home. And I have a very special Christmas blessing of being able to go into the schools to tell the children about Jesus’ birthday. Today I have been telling how some mother in Bethlehem, hearing of the baby in the manger, sent the children to say they would make room for the Holy family in their home. (We know someone did, for by the time the wise men arrived they entered into a house.)
And we too can make room for Jesus in our hearts and homes.