Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. – Mark 12:30-31
Jesus sums up the commandments in these two short sentences and, in many ways, if you wanted to sum up what it means to be a Christian, and what our faith means to us, in a short phrase I think this would do it perfectly.
Christmas is nearly upon us, a time when we celebrate God’s love showered upon us in the birth of His Son, Christ the Prince of Peace whose message of love and compassion is for all. It’s a wonderful time when, through the season of Advent, we prepare for His coming in prayer and study.
We are also getting ready for the other part of the celebration when we join with family and friends, sharing gifts and food and love. Sadly this is not the case for everyone.
Way back in the mists of time (1966 actually) two well known singers of the day, Simon and Garfunkel, issued a song with the title ‘7 O’clock news/Silent Night’. While they are singing Silent Night, in the background and slowly getting louder, the news is being broadcast until it becomes louder than the carol itself. The message was that the good news of Christ’s birth was being overshadowed by the troubles of the world and the pressures of life.
For many, Christmas will not be a time of joy and celebration as they cope with bereavement, being sole carers for a loved one suffering severe illness, coping with poverty or loneliness, suffering from mental health issues or fear.
We cannot solve the problems of the world in one night but we can support any we know in our own community, offering to give a carer an hour or two of respite, being generous in our giving to the foodbank, offering a shoulder to someone in need or simply by being there—being a loving neighbour.
Christmas is a time of love and joy as we celebrate the birth of the Saviour in prayer, in worship and with those we love. It’s good, enjoy, but at the same time remember Christ’s command to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Be there for family but also be there for those in need in the best way you can.
May God bless you and fill you with joy at this Christmastime and may His Holy Spirit be with us and guide us as we seek to share His love and compassion with all peoples.