Pause for Thought January 2013

coffeeAs I write this, Christmas is fast approaching. It’s everywhere.  I am even reminded about Christmas when I occasionally get a take away coffee from Costa. Their cups have “Feel Christmassy inside” written on them. I thought about this phrase. What must you do to feel Christmassy inside? Does it come from the things you do, the decorations you put up, the plans you make, the coffee you drink? Or does it come from somewhere else?

I remember the challenge of feeling Christmassy inside when I lived in Kenya and we celebrated Christmas in a mud hut, in the heat, with roast goat, far away from close family and the familiar traditions of Christmas. I didn’t feel sentimental inside, but I think I marked the events of Jesus’ birth and its significance more clearly. It was an inner feeling and conviction unsupported by external props.
Many people are now contemplating the New Year, and thinking about resolutions. We will soon see Gym membership increase – for a while. All manner of resolutions for self-improvement will be uttered, but often New Year resolutions are things that go in one year and out the other. Real change comes from inside, not from external rules and resolutions. Jesus himself in the Gospel talked about the inner self being the source of our problems and the thing that needs to change. To paraphrase what he said, “The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart”. That’s what he came to deal with – the problem of sin. Real change comes from dealing with the inner things, not from earnestly rearranging the deck chairs on the upper deck, (if I may borrow a picture from the Titanic disaster). Of course, there are things we can do that help to change us where it matters, on the inside. But many of our resolutions and traditions of Christmas have little lasting effect on how we are on the inside.
I wish people well in their resolutions, in trying to feel Christmassy or just better inside. But I believe the biblical truth of real change coming from a change of heart which God alone can give. As we will have sung ‘O little town of Bethlehem this Christmas, we will have sung the lines “Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today”.
May the Lord bless you and may you experience real change as we head for 2013 Dave Maylor