Mark 5:27 – She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. (ESV)
Before COVID-19, our church has usually had a Christmas craft fayre, mainly as an outreach for the local community. The church membership, who are mostly tasked with supervising the various craft table activities, come, too. They are allocated to the tables laid out with boxes of materials to make glittery pine cones, wreaths, iced biscuits, beaded bracelets, Christmas tree ornaments, and so on. Others are designated to the refreshment area where heaps of cakes have been laid out on trays for people to sample, along with beverages. The church floor soon becomes a hive of focused parents and children, sitting at table or milling around enjoying their time together in the hubbub of people eating, drinking, making Christmas decorations, and chatting.
Into the midst of this crowd, I come in, all dressed up in red, black, and white, shouting, "Ho, ho, ho, and happy Christmas!" Every year, I dress up as Father Christmas for the fayre. I high-five and fist-bump the children as I go, some of whom are small and some as large as teenagers. It is like being a people magnet. Children throng around me and look up in amazement, blocking my path to the impromptu grotto. Some stare at this rotund gentleman with a big white beard and red suit, carrying a large sack over his shoulder.
Some children are too nervous to enjoy the spectacle and cling to adults; some are bigger and enjoy the horseplay. Others are over-awed and just want to hold my hand or hug me, in the process making sure that I know what they want for Christmas. I make my way to sit down in my grotto and then have up to two hundred children with families come and receive a present and often take a picture. All this is within the remaining allotted time of the fayre before we have to clear up and prepare for the chairs to be out again in rows on Sunday.
It is very humbling having small children just stare and look at my outfit in amazement, trying to find the person behind all the trappings of the role. I am very privileged to have this brief insight of being the centre of attention.
I wonder what it must have been like for Jesus being mobbed by those wondrous of who He was. I am sure that there were all those different types of personalities pressing in — some keen and desirous of what He could do for them; some just needing to be accepted; some nervous but wanting to find out more. Others needed healing, or were sceptical and just came along for the ride to see what might happen, or what they could get out of the experience.
Today, Jesus still receives all comers, especially those who come wanting and needing a hug at Christmas. To those who will accept His gifts, He offers presents which are a blessing — everlasting and deeply meaningful.
Prayer: Father God, we come to worship You in awe and wonder. We come seeking to find the real Jesus — the One behind the trappings of the title of the Christ of Christmas. Please forgive us for all that offends, and accept us for Jesus' sake. May we come close and receive a spiritual hug and a blessing. Open our eyes and our hearts to a deeper understanding of Your love for us, and an awareness of how You have changed our lives infinitely for the better. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Infant Holy Infant Lowly" (Lyrics)