Luke 2: 7

Mike Rimmer
Mike Rimmer

I have no idea why we were doing it but in my final year at Primary School, someone had the bright idea that we should do a nativity play at Christmas. Nothing unusual there because after all, thousands of parents have spent this week watching their children performing in nativity plays. But back in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early seventies, our teacher decided we'd do ours in French! We didn't even speak French! We wouldn't learn French until we went to big school the following September.

This is the only time I was ever in a nativity play and of course, I didn't get a starring part. Instead I was in a rabble of shepherds struggling to get my Geordie tongue around my one line. Thirty years later, I remember it well, "Je suis le deuxieme berger." Oh yes, I was the second shepherd and it was game on to tell one of the best known stories in the world. I guess it didn't matter that we were using mangled French, the adults watching were familiar with the story.

And that's one of the challenges of the Christmas story for many of us, we're over familiar with the story of the angels singing or the wise men visiting or the baby born miraculously to the virgin that we miss just how amazing it is.

But I wonder about the shepherds, did they go to the grave telling their story to family and friends, remembering that incredible night? Did the wise men entertain their friends with stories of Herod and the dream that saved them? And what about the stable owner? Could they ever know that their small act of kindness to a homeless couple would be retold for the rest of human history?

For most of us, our small acts of kindness go largely unnoticed except by God and that's probably the best way to show generosity to others. Christmas is famed as a season of goodwill and in a world where the currency of love, kindness and generosity can often seem overshadowed by greed and selfishness, here is an opportunity to make a difference. And there are plenty of opportunities.

There are plenty who, like Mary and Joseph, are homeless this Christmas and with sub zero temperatures, would benefit from a sleeping bag, scarf and gloves or even a trip to a coffee shop for a hot drink. There are plenty of families in your neighbourhood who are struggling with affording even the basics this Christmas where an anonymous Christmas card and a few ten pound notes would make all the difference.

With a week to go until Christmas Day, let's lift our heads from the bustle of last minute preparations and look around and see where we can spread something of God's love and kindness to those who need it. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.