The SMUS community filled the historic Christ Church Cathedral for its first all-school carol service. There were 300 performers, three schools and a packed house. The service included prayer music, and reflecting on the story of Mary, the manger, and the birth of Jesus.
by Kai and Livia, Grade 11 and 8
Reflecting on the Christmas story can be difficult because we need to supersede the stereotypes of what Christmas has evolved into. I think many of us see Christmas as a time of appreciation, sharing and celebration. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve somewhere lost the balance between those three things. As a society, we tend to be heavy on the celebrating, but we go a little light on appreciation and sharing.
It occurred to us that Mary seemed grateful for a manger. Imagine waking up Christmas morning and running downstairs to find out that your only present is a family vacation to spend a night in someone else’s garage. There would be board games and eggnog, and no external distractions whatsoever. Just some time under a simple roof with those you love. If that night in a dimly lit garage was the only present under the tree, how grateful would you feel on Christmas morning?
Then, consider Mary. She’s sitting in a stable after a donkey ride that would have been tiring and frustrating. We’re offered no indication that she’s mad or angry. It seems that a roof over her head and a little manger for her baby are enough.
And then there are the shepherds, who don’t actually have anything to give, but their presence is enough. I think it’s their appreciation for life. They are able to discover the majesty in the world and in that they find contentment. Incredibly, they are also able to give a gift from nothing. Their presence is somehow just as reassuring to Mary and her baby as a bed could have been.
Which got us thinking about Christmas and all the stuff we give and receive. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to give and receive. At the same time, we need balance. We need to appreciate the gifts that haven’t been marketed to us and wrapped in a pretty ribbon. The way that Mary could find peace in that stable. The way that a group of shepherds could make a gift of their presence.
It goes back to what Kennedy and Trinity said. The whole message about figuring out who we are and what we value, and putting that at the centre of our lives. Here’s how it comes together for me. I know that I have the celebration part of the balancing act in place. What I need to work on is the appreciation part. The kind of appreciation that would make a garage vacation seem awesome, because I’m with the people I love. The kind of appreciation where I get excited about the presence of friends, because they make my life full.
Along with appreciation, I want to work on the sharing part of the balance. Sharing, so people aren’t left in the cold. Because although Mary may have been at peace in the stable, she shouldn’t have had to. In my life, I can make a little room at the Inn for others.
And what happens when we get the balance right? When it’s about appreciation and sharing, along with celebration? We get good news of great joy for all people.