Friday, December 23, 2011

23rd December

Now I know what Steven Spielberg feels like after a day in the editing room. Yes I’m still working on my home movie and I reckon I’m close to finishing, having whittled an hour or two of raw footage down to about twenty minutes. I’ve still to make a decision on background music but then all I have to do is burn some discs and ‘2011 with Grandad’ will be done and dusted. It’s been a difficult year so much of what I’ve done has gone unrecorded but the clips I’ve been watching have brought back some beautiful memories of my lovely family. Christmas is such a difficult time this year and I’m not the only one really struggling with tears at the moment. Today has been quite wretched and I feel rather exhausted after getting upset a few times. But it’s such a privilege to be able to share a few tears with others.

And my son-in-law had his endoscopy this morning looking at his hole in the heart. All went well and he was back home not much more than a couple of hours after the procedure, though he has to wait for follow up regarding the next step. But that’s stage one and it was good to get it out of the way. So I woke up this morning thinking of a comparable procedure Jane had in hospital back in February. It was around 1am and she had to sit on the edge of her bed while two doctors inserted a very small tube into her back to deal with fluid around her lung. I sat with her and again the whole thing was straightforward, though with minimal success as her problem was not so much fluid as cancer growth. At the time we just got on with it, as one more event in a whole string of challenges, but reliving that episode today was like entering into a wide awake nightmare. It felt almost like I was having a panic attack, quite horrible and really upsetting. Although I offered to help it was probably good that I didn’t get involved taking my son-in-law to hospital as I’m not quite sure where I stand as regards entering one at the moment. It’s over a year since I had a dental check-up as well and every time I remember about making an appointment I find myself backing away. Anything medical is probably out of bounds for a while longer, though apart from the obligatory quick clean I’ve had no dental treatment for twenty years, so I should be ok.

Now I’m back to thinking about Christmas and had a quite delightful thought. Do they celebrate Christmas in heaven? Now I’m aware of the Biblical caution about placing special emphasis on any particular day, so of course no amount of celebration would bring special reward from heaven. God is more interested in our hearts than our religion. Religion is basically a man-made construct aiming to please God, and usually based around stylised ritual. Maybe it has value for some but it doesn’t work for me. I like to keep things simple. In the New Testament we see the Lord’s single instruction to remember him through ‘Holy Communion’ and that’s about all there is to describe how we should meet together as church. No real detail about hymns or the various other ingredients in church meetings. Maybe a bit of stuff about behaving ourselves by not hogging the show and also teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit.

But in the Old Testament we see all manner of festivals commanded by the Lord to help Israel to remember their faith journey. In simple terms you could say that the previous command to celebrate him in many ways has now ended and been superseded by the one. Nonetheless it seems to me that the Lord loves to party! So why in heaven or on earth should we not celebrate? Just not in a religious way. Attending the first communion in the early hours of Christmas Day for example can never make us right with God. There’s an awful lot more to salvation than such religious activity.

So then the Lord’s birth was certainly heralded with an angelic anthem and those particular angels returned to heaven so they have the initial experience to draw upon. I like to think that the activity of heaven in some mysterious way reflects life on earth… and vice versa. But I can’t quite see gaudy baubles or even a cardboard angel on top of a tree going down very well! And they wouldn’t need booze when already filled with the joy of the Lord. Could it ever snow in heaven? Do they give presents? What about turkey? What’s that, not even a veggie roast?

Luke 2:8-15
‘That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”’ (NLT)

No comments: