The Stockies wish you an Emmanuel (God With Us) Christmas...
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Christmas morning. I love Christmas morning. Indeed I think Janice and I are the ones who, every year, dragged our children out of bed early.
From my very first Christmases in 28A Maine Park, Galgorm I just remember sheer delight in the panorama of goodies laid out out before my wee tired eyes. I was an only child. There are pros and cons but one of the pros is not sharing your parents Christmas bank balance with brothers and sisters!
There was no central heating in that wee flat and I have no idea how I stayed warm until my parents got up to light the fire but my giddy little mind wasn’t thinking temperature.
It is only the photos, taken no doubt by Uncle Jimmy, that remind me of the the little red pedal car. I was far more aware of the go cart. It was Laos pedal but with a bit more poke and it wasn’t the plastic engine. There was a Sterling Moss drivers suit with it. It was a one piece overall. There was a helmet too. I looked the part!
A year or two later and my father started encouraging my sporting interests with a rugby ball and golf clubs. Those clubs were like friends for some years. I still have the Peter Allis putter. I am not sure what I was asking for in those days. My dad has no clue about The Rolling Stones but I didn’t always get what I wanted but I got what I needed.
The best Christmas morning gift of all was one that I so wanted and did get. I was eleven years old before there was a record player in the house. I got one on Christmas morning 1972. Thinking back I wonder if I woke up my parents playing the records I had bought in advance - Elton John’s Crocodile Rock and Cat Stevens’ Can’t Keep It in. There was also an awful Top Of The Pops record, season musicians covering the hits.
My love for pop music was growing in the latter months of 1972. Watching the charts. Following Donny Osmond whose face covered my cousin Sharon’s bedroom wall. I was a 7” singles boy but music would be a constant companion in my life from that Christmas morning until now. Christmas days from then on was about music. 2021 will be no different.
Indeed maybe the best Christmas gift since then was in 1994. It is the only year that she dared buy me music as a gift. She know that it is likely that I will have anything that she attempts to buy or buy it between the time she buys it and then gives it to me!
In 1994 however she nailed it. She had been to visit friends in London and had heard about a bootleg CD of Mike Scott, of the Waterboys, live gig at Greenbelt, our favourite Festival that last August. As she walked around Camden market she heard what sounded like The Waterboys as she walked past a stall. On Christmas Eve she reached me a CD I knew nothing about; an absolute winner!
All in all though I opened my best ever Christmas gift nowhere near Christmas Day at all. The best gift of Christmas goes, most years, unnoticed.
The baby in the straw, born of Mary, visited by strangers, soon on the run as a refugee. The baby… Jesus… Emmanuel. That baby is God’s gift to us. As in “For God so loved the world that he gave…” In a world of gods where the humans have to offer gifts to appease them, this God of the baby is the one who gives. It is an upside down idea that causes an upside down kingdom to break through.
God giving gifts. God gifts his love. He lavish with it. It is grace filled which means that his gift of love doesn’t depend on who we are, what we’ve done or what other people think about us. God’s gifts are not earned. They have nothing to do with competitiveness or comparisons. Grace is best defined as unmerited favour”.
The name of a girl
And a thought that can change the world”
(U2 - Grace)