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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pleasure and Pain at Christmas

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.”
— Mary Ellen Chase (1887–1973)
We cannot pretend to know all the things in people’s hearts and the states of their minds, and how they approach Christmas. Such a season means so many things; it’s not just about the Saviour’s birth, over 2,000 years ago. This is not an offensive statement when we consider that each of us brings our own personal experience into the presence of Christmas, each year. Christmas is not just about Jesus Christ—though, as the cliché says, Jesus is the reason for the season—because we all have our unique childhood, developmental, and adult experiences of Christmas. Not everybody’s Christmases have been gilt-edged. And yet not everybody’s Christmases have been etched in pain. But there is pain, and reminders of pain, for many.
It is for those in pain at this time of year that Christ seeks to come; into the heart, to be accepted, such that this Saviour might save a person and heal them by his Spiritual touch.
Being ‘God in Skin’ at Christmas Time
Christmas means so many things to so many people; it is hard to really understand what it means in a practical sense. We may be reminded, in so many ways, that Jesus came—God in skin—to learn and live and leave, having fulfilled the Father’s will.
God in skin is an interesting concept at Christmas time.
We can liken it to making no assumption regarding where people sit along a continuum of pleasure and pain such time. Some experience the ecstatic highs of life and some the teeth-grinding lows. Many are those between. When God has transformed us—and we take seriously our role as God in skin—we may be attuned to others’ pleasure and pain at Christmas time, and indeed more our own.
We might, as Paul suggests to the Romans, rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).
Making No Assumptions
Having made no assumptions as to what other people are experiencing, we are positioned to do God’s will in the midst of our relationships and within the interactions that God brings to us that we cannot predict.
And we should pray for these: opportunities for interaction, during the Christmas period, with those we wouldn’t normally interact with. Christmas and New Year times are periods when God causes people to reflect. People may be more reachable.
And people may seek to be sought. It is for us to be open and available.
It is a blessing to be cognisant of both pleasure and pain at Christmas time. God will use us if we present dutifully. We are made alive in our service toward humanity in Jesus’ name to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: My thanks to Virginia Cosgrove Bass for inspiring the thought for this article.

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