Thursday, December 29, 2016


        It's  almost ironical that our usual 'Christmas' stuff is based on tradition, sentiment, nostalgia and family, while the stories in the two gospels warn precisely against these things, shouting out to us that all these things keep us from finding the newness that God has to offer us.
       I love the family and traditional as much as the next person and rarely search for anything new at Christmas. I was lucky this year, lucky to be in an unusual spot (for me) and so 'something new' was hard to ignore.
       Judy and I were in Toronto for the Christmas weekend,  bouncing around between family and friends. It so happened that for a few hours on Christmas morning we were 'between' engagements so, of course, we went to the only place opened in that part of town, the local Tim Hortons. We had books along, naturally, so we went in and took our coffees to a table and spent a couple of hours reading and people watching, sitting next to a window which looked out on the Drive Through.
      It was fairly crowded inside - fairly young adults to seniors. Two women with a child each, several languages being spoken and a very accepting and laid-back atmosphere. Many of these people knew, or at least had seen each other before. They were probably on their own and this was their Christmas morning 'out'. It was NOT a depressing picture. At one time I rose and led the people in giving the staff a hand in thanks for them being there to serve us all and to wish them a Merry Christmas.
      Meanwhile, just outside, there was a steady stream of cars driving in for a quick fix, The cars, as far as I counted, had only one person each, and there were no smiles. They were all in a hurry to go somewhere. To a family gathering? To pick up a 'shared' child? Who knows? At any rate, there was a huge difference, it appeared, between the attitude of those outside in their cars (mostly quite new and expensive) and the much poorer and supposed 'lonely' people inside. Sitting where I was, I was greatly gifted with the understanding that the story in Luke was right, that the poor shepherds are much more likely to hear the angels than are the rest of us. We who supply the meals for the poor, whether at Christmas or throughout the year, rarely in our business and 'good works' even come close to the realities that God has for us. We're just too busy driving around, grabbing our coffee on-the-go. We may feed the poor, but how often to we eat and live with them, really sharing our lives?
       In this culture of ours what is based on material wealth it is nearly impossible to hear this truth. I hope and dream of some people starting to intentionally trying to live in a Way that we know brings us life. It will be such a huge step of faith. But so much needed. Until then, the angels sing in vain.

Yours in hope and love,