Sister Sue - December 2015

posted 30 Dec 2015, 02:44 by Richard Jones   [ updated 30 Dec 2015, 02:44 ]

Dear Friends,

When I was a child, admittedly as my nephews and nieces inform me, was a long time ago (!) you could tell it was getting close to Christmas by the way the people greeted each other. Strangers would pass each other and call out a cheery “All the best!” Customers and shop staff would end each transaction with a similar greeting or a bright “Merry Christmas”.  Now I’m sure that things weren’t all hunky dory even back then but nevertheless people at least made an effort to relate to the spirit of the season and attempted to be friendly, if only for a little space of time. As time has past, and the preparations for Christmas begin earlier and earlier we seem to have lost some of the joy surrounding the season. And it’s not only Christmas that seems to have lost some of its spirit as more and more we are encouraged to see ourselves as individuals consumers, the star of our own personal movie, the centre of our own world . In her book “Talk to the hand” (2010), Lynne Truss amusingly and accurately bemoans the fact that more and more people are encouraged to move around in a sort of imaginary bubble of self-concern which then licenses rude and boorish behaviour. Living in such an atmosphere means that we all live in a state of suspicion and readiness to take offence even where none is intended, view other people as simply obstacles out to delay ‘my’ time and get in ‘my way’.

In the Gospels we see Jesus responding to people in a much more loving and open way. Ready to listen to the distraught father and yet at the same time open to the needs of the suffering woman; taking the time to really engage with an official of an oppressing power; looking into the heart of a rich young man and being ready to really see his need. And he does that even when his goodness and healing is met with ingratitude and nine out the ten lepers he heals fail to return and thank him. Jesus first reaction to other people wasn’t suspicion or cynicism but love and openness and his final commandment was to “love one another as I have loved you.”

In our often frightening and violent world it’s easy to turn in on ourselves, to look after only “me and mine” or indeed, “after number one”. As followers of the Prince of Peace we are called to challenge the negative, indeed, toxic spirit at large that sees the stranger only as a threat to be kept at arm’s length at best. So as we enter and continue through our celebrations of the Prince of Peace, Immanuel – God with us, let us do our part to challenge this individualism and all that brings. You never know your smile and cheery greeting might be just the small thing that changes someone else’s life.

Jesus, lover of humanity, help us to see You in others and may others see something of You in us. Amen.

With love and blessings for Christmas and the New Year Sister Sue.