(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: A wish for freedom at the Christmas season

Reflections on Christmas, from Summerland United Church

By Armand Houle

What do you want for Christmas?

Who hasn’t asked someone that question or been asked the question by someone else?

What do you want for Christmas? Hmmmm.

I think with the way things are going in the world right now I would say this year and for as many years as necessary I wish for freedom for everyone this Christmas.

Now freedom is defined differently by different people.

The freedom that I wish for everyone this Christmas is the freedom the singer Garth Brooks talks about in his magnificent song, We Shall Be Free.

When the last child cries for a crust of bread,

When the last man dies for just words that he said,

When there’s shelter over the poorest head,

We shall be free.

When the last thing we notice is the colour of the skin,

And the first thing we look for is the beauty within;

When the skies and the oceans are clean again,

Then we shall be free.

When we’re free to love anyone we choose,

When this world’s big enough for all different views,

When we all can worship from our own kind of pew,

Then we shall be free.

And when money talks for the very last time,

And nobody walks a step behind;

When there’s only one race, And that’s mankind,

Then we shall be free.

Now some may say that Garth Brooks is naïve and that I am naïve, and that Summerland United Church and the United Church of Canada are naïve as well, because this is the freedom we believe in and work toward.

Oh well, I guess we are in good company because this is the exact freedom that the one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas believed in and offers us a path to.

Jesus, teaches that in order to be truly free we need to open our hearts to love; love of God, love of neighbour, love of ourselves and love of our enemies.

He also teaches that we need to let love fill our hearts and let go of the prejudices that we hold so dear.

This is not an easy thing to do as is witnessed to by the history of the church.

Yet this is the hope and freedom that Jesus offers when we allow his spirit and his way to fully take root in our heart.

This Christmas may we all open our hearts and let love transform us so that we will all come to know the freedom that is true freedom.

Merry Christmas.

Rev. Armand Houle is the minister at Summerland United Church.

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