“To worship rightly is to love each other”

By Anne Abayasekara

The treble voices sang out sweet and clear at the school carol service I attended yesterday:-

“He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all
And His shelter was a stable
And His cradle was a stall.
With the poor and mean and lowly
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.”

Words that remind us of the austerity of that first Christmas and how the Christ of Christmas lived when He came down to earth. It was in stark contrast to the merriment and extravagance, orgies of spending, partying and rich repasts, that make the news today.

Santa Claus seems to be the central figure that epitomizes the meaning of Christmas

Expensive gifts are bought for those who are already well-endowed with worldly goods. Santa Claus seems to be the central figure that epitomizes the meaning of Christmas.

Even the meaningful carols of old are given a back-seat as people lustily sing of “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer” or “Santa Claus is coming to town”, or “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”.
It’s so easy to be mesmerized by the clever advertising that is all around us.

A visitor from another planet would be justified in assuming that Christmas is, of all festivals, the signal for gross self-indulgence and utter indifference to the plight of others.

Those who struggle with the soaring cost of living, the thousands in refugee camps, those made homeless by floods, those who lives are destroyed by the ravages of war, those to whom words like “peace on earth, goodwill towards men” sound a mockery and who find no justice in this world.

If Christ taught us anything it was that we have to be perpetually concerned about the poor and the hungry, the ill-clad and the homeless, the sad and the lonely, the outcast and the oppressed. The good things of life are to be shared among all. And it is only love and goodwill that will bring about peace on earth. He said that any human being in need is our neighbour, He warned us to “watch out and guard against every kind of greed; because a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be.”

He asked us to treat others as we would like them to treat us, to forgive those who hurt us, to go the extra mile and to give without counting the cost. His life on earth is for all time the standard by which we who call ourselves by His name, should measure our own lives.

The best gift we can give our children is a realization that this is what true religiousness is all about.

“O Brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother!
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.
“Follow with reverent steps the great example
Of Him whose holy life was doing good:
So shall the wide earth seem our Father’s temple,
Each loving life a psalm of gratitude!”

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