Christmas Time - 2015
Greetings from Mount Alford Lodge
It has been a busy year.Thank you for your interest and support. As Christmas and the New Year approach, we rejoice with you what God has done, and is doing, in our midst.
Most weekends this year have been booked and mid week activities fill many gaps. It is a great time of building relationships. Now comes Christmas!
Local churches, groups and businesses come our way for their Christmas celebrations. In days past we have used a marquee on the back lawn. Erecting it was a Wirth's Circus event. It is storm season here in SE Queensland - that means shredded marquees (3), mud puddles and squelch! Recently we added air-conditioning to the Lodge, so now guests dine in luxurious comfort with beautiful food, desserts to die for, new carpeted floor coverings, all the decorations, background music.. and we do everything we can to make their time with us meaningful. It is Christmas at Mount Alford Lodge!
However I could not help contrasting this with the night Jesus was born. I doubt if there were doves cooing in the rafters and motherly cows looking on. The Biblical narrative is very brief - Jesus was laid in a manger. Maybe Mary and Joseph did not even have a roof over them! A manger was a stone feeding trough. One can't go much lower.
The words of the carol are beautiful: "How silently! How silently! the wondrous gift was given." No people. No piped music, no dishes of food, no table service. Nothing!
Yet God was giving us everything needed to make us complete. Jesus did not come to impress. He came to bring inner renewal. When we understand that, everything else is superfluous.
Christmas is Family Time
Probably one of the most under-rated concepts of civilization is the value of the family. "When God wanted to build a nation, He started with the family" says the Jewish proverb.
This year at the Lodge, Christmas will resemble an invasion. It will be family - and families must get together. There will be noise, and misunderstandings, and dominating influences, and the quadrupling of the average sized family ... but the family is God's way to developing character in the early years of life. Sadly, much of today's dysfunctional lifestyle and violent behaviour stems from the family - or lack thereof.
It is a good thing to keep in mind. Don't despair with the 4.05am start, and masses of Christmas paper on the lounge room floor, sirens shrieking and fishing rods tangled up in the chandeliers. If our kids think they are not wanted, when we desperately need them, they may not be around.
God designed the family. It is the enemy's first target (and I don't limit that enemy to satan.) The family is God's "Exhibit A" for the church. In destroying the family, we lose the analogy of God's heart, the church.
Christmas is the recognition that Jesus Christ entered into our world. He came specifically. He came, not only to reveal life as God intended life to be, but to actually be The Way for us to participate in His life. This is the Christian Life.
It is so easy for us to be sidetracked into fear and uncertainty. Violence, terrorism, business confusion, family breakdowns ... the list is legion! But there is one certainty; God is running this world, and He is still in control. Nothing can happen to you or me except through His permissive will. NOTHING. It is my honest belief that God is permitting the degeneration of our times that we will turn to Him to find peace. Peace is not a Christmas package: Peace is Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace. When we receive Him, we receive everything God has to offer.
May Christmas 2015 be a real blessing to you and all yours.
Geoff and Beryl Hopson
Phil and Wendy Bell, Makarla and Mitchell (plus the cat, the turtle and 7 goldfish)
Don and Wendy Rea