Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jesus at the Centre of my Christmas

I have quite a collection of Christmas ornaments. Some are rather lovely. Gilded angels, sparkly stars, shiny baubles and one of my favourites, a Saint Nicholas figurine dressed in a more traditional coloured robe rather than the familiar red and white suit which alludes to the long, commercial association with a certain soft drink. But there is one humble, handmade ornament in my collection. A wooden heart, painted red, embellished with the name of the One who is at the centre of it all - JESUS my Saviour, my Lord and my friend and the very reason I live. I always place this heart which bears His name high up, near the top of the tree in a prominent place and tell my children that the Jesus heart cannot hang from a lower branch but needs to be seen and placed up high because He is the most high God.

At a local shopping mall santa has been given a throne right in the centre of the forecourt. The queue to meet him is long, so I take my children behind the throne and show them a small glass case which holds a Nativity scene. Due to its location and size many people would not be likely to see it and walk past on their way to the supermarket. It has not been given a place of prominence. Whilst I am thankful that the Nativity scene has not been removed altogether, each time I step behind santa's throne and see that forgotten display I  determine that Jesus will be at the centre of our family's celebration of Christmas. We sing a song at church 'Jesus at the centre'. One of the lines is 'From my heart to the Heavens, Jesus be the centre, It's all about you, yes it's all about you'. If we are a Christian and really mean that, then Jesus needs to be the centre of our Christmas celebrations too.

It's why at home we talk about Jesus and read stories about a baby born in a stable and shepherds, wise men and angels rather than 'The Night before Christmas. It's why I asked for a Willow Tree Nativity set one year as my Christmas gift and set it out each season in a place of prominence. It's why Christmas is mentioned on our family vision poster which states 'Christmas will always be a special time in our household, when we come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a beautifully decorated home, around our table adorned with flowers and candles, giving gifts to one another and blessing others, particularly our neighbours.'

We are right now planning on how we will bless our neighbours. It's sure to involve food baked in our kitchen and children will help make it and deliver it. One year it was gingerbread, another year jars of muesli and cinnamon buns shaped into wreaths. We have just found out we have new neighbours! My daughter and son met them yesterday. They have moved here from America. Christmas will be somewhat different for them here and a lot warmer. We will have to do something very special to welcome them to the community and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to reach out and extend a hand of friendship.

Christmas is always a season of hospitality and we love opening up our home to others. On the weekend our home was full of people as we welcomed a big group of Chinese students into our home. We greeted them with cool drinks on arrival. My daughter had baked a slice and crackers, cheese, grapes and nuts were set out - on cake stands of course! The students arrived with armfuls of food which I was not expecting. Dishes of noodles, salads, rolls and a huge watermelon. I was introduced to some of the students but our children did most of the befriending, the twins determined to learn as many names of the girls as possible and my toddler found himself a new best friend - one of the boys who gave him piggy back rides and lots of high fives. We had hoped they might get to see a koala or a wallaby but none put in an appearance. Thankfully, the snakes didn't cross our paths either when we headed into the bush for a walk which was led by the border collie and kelpie cross who were just as excited as the children to have all these people in our home. It was a day I will never forget and very much a reminder for me that we have been given this very special place not as a sanctuary from the world for ourselves but a sanctuary to be shared with others. I think the students enjoyed their visit. They took so many photos and a request was made for one to be taken in my country kitchen!

We are being sent lots of guests this year from overseas - and my friend's son from Germany is coming to spend Christmas with us. He is already in the country and has been working in Sydney and he's looking forward to his visit here. The last time I saw him he was 2. We are looking forward to returning the hospitality that his family bestowed upon us when we visited Germany. He's keen to learn to surf so those extra boards we have lying around will come in useful.We have also said we will be willing to have any of the Chinese students for Christmas dinner, most have host families - if any do take up our offer it will be a full house for Christmas! And that's the way I like it, surrounded by my family and welcoming friends.... with Jesus at the centre. Not just the unseen guest at the table but the One whose presence is sensed and experienced - not just in the church but in the home and especially at Christmas.

This will most likely be my last post before Christmas. I thought of sharing inspiration for Christmas decorating but if you need that you can go on pinterest or visit one of the 'beautiful' blogs where the owner has time to style, take and upload all the photos - I don't have the time to do that this year but wanted to share from my heart about what Christmas really means to me and as much as I love to decorate my home it's not about having the cutest tree or the best styled table with the latest in trend colour scheme. I didn't add to the collection this year and have no new Christmas creations to show you apart from cake stands which have featured in most of my recent posts. I have worked out I have sold at least 70 cake stands since I started making them! Any new ornaments will have to match in with the ones I already own and even if I were to change my style or scheme - there will always appear on the uppermost branches, a red wooden heart bearing the name of Jesus - the one who is and always will be the centre of my Christmas, my family, my life, my home.

May His Peace, His Joy and His Love be experienced in your home and heart this Christmas. I'll be back to share more from my home and my heart in 2013.


Suzanne said...

Lovely sharing Ann--thanks:-) I also haven't had much time to take pics and such. I don't know how these women decorate like pages from magazines...LOL! Say hello to your American neighbors--depending on what part they are from they may be used to the weather:-) I hope you have a happy and full houseful of people who I know will be blessed by your abundant hospitality!

Camille said...

Merry Christmas to you my friend! Yes, indeed...HE must have the place of prominence! I am about to post my last post of the year as well...we're on the same page! :)

Love to you!

living from glory to glory said...

Merry CHRISTmas!
So glad to see your post, Your life is filled with such love and testimonies that touch many lives.
It was so good to see your red heart decoration with JESUS on it.
Blessings, Roxy

Pam said...

I like your Christmas, and agree... He is the center, Sadly we are seeing the attempt to remove Him from it become more aggressive. It is difficult to even listen to the news any more. Your post is cozy and lovely. I'm sure your guests were a joy and thought you all such wonderful treasures. I like the picture in your country kitchen.

Our Christmas is going to be quieter this year. Only Russell and Eddie will be home with us. But it is peaceful and sweet none the less. Miss the other kids and grandbabies like crazy though (this time of year I long for those babies more than ever).
In case I don't get a chance to blog a lot more.... Merry christmas to you and your whole family.
Love and Blessings,

Ellie said...

I barely got a tree up and a wreath on the front door this year. I love your heart, Ann. We are such kindred spirits. I'm enjoying my new grandbaby so much, I don't care if all the decorating gets done. As a matter of fact, I am taking a minute from Christmas baking to check out your blog. It is the first time my daughter has really, really been into it - we are having such a fun time. Merry Christmas my overseas friend. PS, I got my teapot in Africa when I was on a sharing HIS love trip. Blessings, Ellie

Joolz said...

Peace and joy be with you and your family this Christmas too! A lovely post reminding me that I have so much to do yet to also slow down and enjoy it.

africanaussie said...

Gosh your home sounds like a hive of activity! Such love and sharing abiding in your house - which is the true meaning of Christmas. I love your heart ornament, and your nativity. I have one I picked up on clearance after Christmas a couple of years ago, and they have pride of place in front of the TV. You cant watch TV without being reminded of the reason for the season. Happy Christmas to you and all your loved ones.

Camille said...

Happy New Year to you all my friend!


Renata said...

I love catching up on your life ~ & your country kitchen is gorgeous ( what I could see of it :).
Your inspire me with your hospitality. God has been giving us more & more opportunities with hospitality of the past year & so I am getting more comfortable with opening my home to big groups!
Have a lovely day


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