Seasons greetings everyone. Rob here.
It has been a time of milestones for me this month. I finished my Masters thesis, Kiley and I celebrated 20 years of marriage and on Sunday my church honoured me with a gift for serving for 10 years as Church Pastor. Remembering and celebrating milestones is a new discipline for me. Growing up, my family was always low-key about these things, but if Christ’s incarnation tells us anything, it tells us that there is nothing low-key about being human. God said YES to humanity at Christmas time and so if we fail to honour our own humanity we are acting against God’s desire.
So this Christmas is not just about “keeping our eyes on God” but also keeping our eyes on each other. It’s about looking across as well as up. It’s about celebrating each other as well as celebrating God’s mighty act in sending Jesus to us. The prayer is that we would see God’s image in every person, and especially in those whom we will spend time with this Christmas season.
In a practical sense, for me, it means seeing my son’s growing ability in drumming and not just complaining about the noise. It is appreciating his requests for more cricket in the backyard as a way of spending time together; as joy and not a duty. It is finding ways to honour my daughter and spend time with her also, like the puzzle time we had last night. It is loving and appreciating Kiley even as my desire for rest clashes with her desire to get stuff done! It is seeing my in-laws and relatives through God’s eyes and not through my own opinions.
All of this begins with the hardest seeing of all; seeing ourselves as God sees us. When I’m not seeing others well, when I’m irritable or impatient or controlling, then I know that I’ve lost sight of how God sees me. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” is not just a nice idea, it is practical advice from the One who knows how it all works. God insists that we know, deep in our bones, how much we are loved by him:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are (1 John 3:1)!
I think my favourite part in that verse is the exclamation mark (times 2!). The Father runs to the prodigal son with his robe hitched up and joy on his face. That’s the kind of love that is given to us too. It’s the kind of love that leads the Word to become flesh and make his dwelling among us. It’s because God so loved the world that God sent Christ into the world; to save us and not condemn us.
So this Christmas celebrate the love of God but celebrate each other too. Ask for the eyes of God to see others as he does. Let his love for every person flow into us and then out of us as we seek to love our neighbor as ourselves. As John writes in his 1st letter:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God (1 John 4:7)
Grace and peace everyone and may your Christmas be filled with God’s love and joy. Thank you for your support.
Thank you for your wise words Rob. I really enjoy reading your blog and it often has a timely message. Congratulations on finishing your thesis – no mean feat. Best wishes. Gill Lukey (st Francis church and Hillcrest library!)