Making it Home Makes it Christmas December 15, 2018
I spend a lot of time in airports. Much of it is related to travel for work and some of it is related to travel for pleasure. This time of the year airports are particularly crowded as people travel to be with family at Christmas. I see many tears of joy and hugs of welcome in airports these days as people arrive home for the holidays and I anticipate that in about two weeks there will be tears of sadness and hugs of goodbye as people leave again. I am reminded of the TV program Hello Goodbye where the interviewer roamed around various airports (in Canada it was Pearson International Airport) and asked people what they were doing and if they were welcoming someone or saying goodbye.
As I write, Kathy and I are excited by the thought that our son Adam and his new wife Magda have just lifted off from Heathrow Airport in London and are on their way home to St. John’s International Airport in Newfoundland to spend two weeks with us over Christmas. Just before boarding the aircraft this morning they took a picture with the Heathrow Bears who do an ad for Heathrow Airport every year at Christmas. This year’s ad is called, Making it Home Makes it Christmas, and we are happy that Adam and Magda will be making it home for Christmas this year. This will be Adam’s first Christmas home in two years. This will also be Magda’s first Christmas away from her family and so we are reminded that Christmas is a time of coming together and being apart. Our other son, Ben, will not be with us this Christmas for he has decided to stay in Burlington, Ontario, and spend it with his girlfriend, Emily, and her family. He has already filled our hearts in a special way when he said he’s not buying gifts for anyone this year but donating to charities in the name of those close him. I gather that his mother and I are giving somebody in Africa a goat!
Christmas is a time of joy and a time of sadness for many people. Often the two are so mixed that it is hard to separate them in your heart even if you manage to do it in your head. Christmas is a time of celebrating family and friends and other blessings, but it is also a time of reflecting upon loss and change. And just as our hearts and homes are filled with the presence of loved ones at Christmas time, the absence of one can be acutely felt. I am certain that there will be somebody reading my words today who is pondering what this Christmas will be like without that special person for the first time. And if you know somebody who has lost a husband or a wife through death or who has gone through a difficult change in their life this year and for whom Christmas may be challenging, please reach out to them with a card or call or visit or perhaps even with an invitation to share in Christmas dinner. God gives us all kinds of families in life and some families we are born into, but other families we choose along the way.
Christmas can be difficult financially for some who feel obligated to ensure that everybody on their list receives a gift. The can be especially hard for parents because our commercialized society places unfair expectations upon them at Christmas time. Gift giving is fine within reason and within your means but remember that the most precious gift of all that you can give another human being is the gift of yourself, your time and your love. As Christians we reflect upon the greatest gift all on that very first Christmas – the infant Jesus. He was the first Christmas gift, given to us by our Heavenly Father. The Wise Men from the East brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Jesus and ever since at Christmas time we share gifts to remember.
I learned this morning of one such act of gift giving that was done quietly in the checkout of a grocery store this week when a young mother who was attempting to pay for purchases did not have enough money. The two people in the lineup behind her quietly stepped forward without hesitation and paid her bill. I know because one of those two guardian angels told me about it but only if I promised to never reveal who they are. But I will tell you that God knows who they are, and a human being in need will never forget them. In a world where individuals, churches and businesses seem to want credit on social media for every act of gift giving, let us celebrate all of those quiet acts of compassion and charity done without any fanfare or any announcement but simply because they are the right thing to do. We love because God first loved us. We give because God has given so very much to us.
And so, from my home to yours, wherever and however you celebrate Christmas this year, know that you are loved by someone and precious in the eyes of God. If you are able, reach out to somebody in need and go to church if you can. If you are lonely this Christmas or new in town and feeling like you want a spiritual home, churches are some of the best places to meet new people and form new relationships and I know that all of our churches are making a special effort to welcome newcomers this Christmas. As I head to St. John’s International Airport to welcome home two weary travelers from Heathrow Airport for this holy Christmas season, I end with a short video from the Heathrow Bears for 2018 (they do a new one every year). This year’s video is called, Making it Home Makes it Christmas!