The best Christmas gift we can give to someone, and ourself, is to be with people in community. That’s what God did in giving us Jesus.
Hello everyone and welcome to episode 83. It is the last one in our series on Relationships at Christmas.
One Word to Describe Christmas
If someone were to ask you for one word to describe the meaning of Christmas, what word would you pick? Presents? Family? Joy? Jesus?
Listen in to today’s episode where I interview a missionary friend, Josephine, who is serving in eastern Europe. She is single and lives alone 5,000 miles from home here in the US.
Out of security concerns because of where she lives, I don’t call her by her real name. Instead, I call her “Josephine” because that was my grandmother’s name who lived in this part of the world until she was 18 and emigrated to the United States. She’s been dead for many years, but I have fond memories of her.
In my conversation with this Josephine, she gives her answer to the one word that sums up the meaning of Christmas for her. The word she picked may surprise you. So let’s listen in…. [14:33 interview with “Josephine”]
I loved the word Josephine picked to sum up the meaning of Christmas: “Emmanuel – God with us.”
A Christmas Gift of Honor
And wasn’t that a great story about those 30 local east European musicians who wanted to honor Josephine, by honoring the holiday that means so much to her?
They did this because she had invested in her relationship with them by honoring their music that she had to learn by ear, as difficult as it was. It reminds me of the verse in Romans 12: 10, “Take delight in honoring each other.” Honor begets honor.
Josephine’s take on the shepherds in the Christmas story also struck me. They were rural, agrarian herdsman, who came into town to be WITH people so very different from themselves.
Josephine concludes by saying she didn’t just watch Christmas from afar, and feel it inside, she actually lived it out by being WITH people in community, different from her, just as God did through his son Jesus who came to be WITH us.
The one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode
Christmas is not to be celebrated alone in your pajamas. Instead, the best Christmas gift we can give each other is to be with people in community, some of whom may be different from you. For when we celebrate Christmas with others, we’ll discover we’re not as different from one another as we may think.
A few suggestions for our own relationships in response to today’s episode
We can follow Josephine’s example and honor someone at Christmas by extending ourselves to be with people in community, like God did when he sent his son Jesus to be WITH us.
Another thing is to reflect upon the past year, Covid and all, to recall God being WITH us. And then to thank him for that. If nothing comes to mind, just ask him to remind us. More good things have happened to us during this pandemic than we realize. It's a Christmas gift we can give to ourselves.
As always, another thing you can do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. You can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes, or you can send them to me in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to find a way to celebrate Christmas like God did that first Christmas. He wanted to be with people in a relationship, to be with people in community. It’s what he intends for all of us; if he were to speak to us audibly today I’m sure he’d say You Were Made for This!
Related resources to help be with people in community
If you missed the other episodes in our Relationships at Christmas series, you can access them by clicking on the following links:
Our Relationship Quote of the Week
As I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog. ~ Phillip Yancey
One last Christmas gift before we close
This Friday, December 25, I’ll have an extra Christmas bonus episode for you. It will be brief, so please look for it and listen in.
That’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now.
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