Crosstracks – Christmas 2004

No travel tales, or 4WD Outback experiences, but a sort of ‘twisted’ Christmas tale that starts ‘down on the farm’, and ends with a thought about Mel Gibson’s 2004 Big Movie.

It was another stinking hot day down on ‘the farm’. There had been a crippling drought for the past 3 years and every living thing was depressed. The spring had brought lots of cloud, but not a drop of rain. It had been the driest November on record, and it looked like it would be followed by the hottest December on record as well if things kept going the way they were. An air of depression pervaded everyone in the homestead, as the prospect of another ‘broke’ and giftless Christmas loomed. “Might as well chuck it all in and give it best if we don’t get any rain by mid January” the ex-soldier-turned-selector said to his wife the  day before Christmas. “It’s not right to subject you and the kids to this hardship.”

But his wife, born and bred in the bush herself, and who had seen many droughts in her hard lifetime, laid down child’s dress that she was trying to mend (their old hand sewing machine had been sold months ago to try to pay the creditors for the feed bills for the few remaining stock), put her thin worn arms around her husband’s neck and with quavering voice said, “we wont let this beat us, we’ll stick it out, and in the meantime we’ll make the merriest Christmas yet for the sake of the children”

So the weary and depressed man go out his battered concertina that he had used to entertain the troops in his platoon in the lull between battles in the war, and his drawn and haggard wife put on a brave and joyful face, and taking off her soiled apron, gathered the children together and in the midst of their poverty sang the joyful songs of Christmas and played happy games on the floor of the tiny, paint-peeling homestead, so that to any passer-by it appeared that the family was celebrating without a care in the world. But that’s the spirit and resilience of the old Australia….

Meanwhile, in the stable not far from the homestead, the farmer’s few remaining stock had gathered and were listening to the merry songs and happy children’s voices coming from the house and they decided that they too would celebrate Christmas in a big way. But how to do it? What could they do?

“The decision is a simple one”, said the one remaining hen to the small assembly of the other farm animals. “We shall have a wonderful Christmas of giving and of pooling our resources. We will have a feast”

“What with?” chorused the others.

“Ham and eggs” replied the Hen, “I’ll donate 2 eggs”.

“Nothing doing” snorted the pig gruffly, “To you, hen, it’s just giving your cast offs, but for me, it’s total commitment!

Which brings me to the real point of this article. Jesus went through the total commitment process, for us, as individuals, and that is what Christmas is all about. Christmas is not an isolated event; Christmas is also the agony in the garden of Gethsemane,: it is the sham trial: the lies of false witnesses: the rejection: the flogging: the punch-up from the Roman soldiers: the crucifixion: the indignity: the death: and the glorious resurrection. I once saw a hand drawn poster of a lone figure nailed to a cross and underneath were the words ‘What more must Jesus do to prove that He loves you?’

What more indeed! It’s totally humiliating to lay aside the splendour of reigning in heaven and to go through the pangs of human birth and then to be put in a vermin infested animal feedbox because there was no decent bed available. So let me ask my question again – ‘What more must Jesus do to prove that He loves you?’

Love without a response is probably the saddest and most depressing thing in the whole universe. We can hear the Christmas ‘story’ over and over again, but if we only keep it at the ‘tinsel’ or commercial level then we may be totally unmoved and unresponsive.

I reckon that Mel Gibson got it right  in his film ‘The Passion Of The Christ’. If you are looking for a video or DVD to watch over the Christmas season then let me recommend it to you. Not for viewing by the little ones – it’s far too harrowing for that – and not for entertainment either, for only those with sadistic minds could ever say that they were entertained by it. No, watch it as a very accurate ‘documentary’ to help you answer the question: “What more must Jesus do to prove that He loves you”. For that is what Christmas is really all about. Total commitment on His part. And yours?

As I said before, love without a genuine response is probably the saddest and most depressing thing in the universe. Have you responded to that love? Why (try to) hide from it? Why? When Christ offers forgiveness without recrimination; a new start without shame; a new hope without fear; and real peace despite the circumstances.

Thank God for Christmas. Really. It’s the first step in your own answer to the question, “What more must Jesus do to prove that He loves you.”

Why not begin to start answering the question by joining me in Church, or the nearest Gospel church that you can attend this Christmas and start making 2005 the ‘year of the pig’, not a ‘year for chooks’! God will bless you!

May you be kept safe, but above all may you find His ongoing blessing.

See you on the TRAX!
Neil Flower – TRAX President.

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