Child of God

He's got the whole world in His hands!

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men" (Luke 2:14)

Hello. I hope you're all safe and well. Following Boris's recent bombshell announcement, a lot of plans will have been changed. We make our plans in good faith but, with the best will in the world, they don't always work out in the way in which we expect.

In my second year in Poland, I was looking forward to coming home for the two-week Christmas break. I was very excited to see Kev, who was now my fiance, and was laden down with gifts for him and my family. Alas, when I stepped out of my apartment to get into the taxi for the airport, my heart sank, as there was a thick fog and I knew that it was probably going to delay my flight home. When I got to the airport, I knew my fears were not unfounded; peering at the flight departures board, I saw that my plane was delayed. I managed to bag a seat in the crowded airport and lost myself in a novel on my kindle, resigned to a long wait.

I have always been a book worm and this has got me through many a situation. Without the distraction of my book that day, I would have been worried, fretting and frustrated about getting home. But I managed to lose myself in the story and was able to switch off my concerns. It's a good thing I did get a seat, as my flight was delayed for seven hours! The airline provided us with breakfast and lunch, and I managed to finish my novel that day but I was extremely pleased to see the plane land and didn't even mind being herded like cattle to board it.

I had, of course, let Kev know that I would be late. He was very disappointed, not least because we were due to go to an afternoon tea at a lovely new restaurant, which had long been arranged by the church. This had already been paid for but there was nothing we could do. I eventually landed in Liverpool in the evening, rather than the morning we had planned, but at least I got home safely. Even though we had missed our church Christmas 'do', we still had a full two weeks to look forward to and we felt truly blessed.

Christmas this year will be so very different from last year. We took for granted our family get-togethers, works socials, even just meeting friends for a drink or a meal. Shopping for gifts has been affected, as lots of people prefer to shop online, rather than risk going into crowded stores. My heart goes out to anyone who will be alone this Christmas, unable to meet with loved ones because of the strict limitations imposed.

No-one need be completely alone, though. Jesus Christ will be with anyone who calls on Him and puts their trust and faith in Him.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

The Cross of Hope

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." (Luke 2:10)

Before I became a Christian, my Christmas celebrations were rather different than my current ones. As I have already stated, I always believed in God long before I made my commitment to Him. Nevertheless, God definitely was on the back burner for me. I was, of course, aware of the Christmas story from school and Sunday school when I was a child. I knew about the baby Jesus, the shepherds and the wise men. I even enjoyed the carol singing.

But as I grew into my late teens and beyond, my main concern was the parties I would be invited to, the presents I would receive and - yes, I will admit it - the food and alcohol I would consume during the 'festive season'. I had plenty of good times but I wouldn't swap them for my Christmases since I accepted Jesus into my life and finally realised what Christmas is all about.

Christmas at the language school in Wroclaw was very interesting. We were asked to assist at the carol services held in the Baptist church, and the atmosphere was beautiful, with candles lit everywhere. All the staff from the school would dress the church with sprays of holly, leaves, and homemade decorations crafted by the more talented and artistic teachers (not including me!)

The children in my classes loved the film, 'Elf' and we watched this in class, while they scoffed all the snacks and drinks I had treated them to. The favourite film at Christmas is 'Home Alone' - not a choice I share, I have to admit - but each to their own!😀

"In His name, the nations will put their hope" (Matthew 12:15)

The Polish celebrate Christmas in a different way from us. Their focus is on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day. During the build-up to Christmas, Poles prepare their houses by intensive cleaning, especially windows and carpets, making sure they are pristine and ready for visitors.

The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve, and is called Christmas Eve supper. It is traditional that no food be eaten until the first star is seen in the sky, and children are encouraged to scan the sky for sight of this star.

Looking for the first star is a reminder of the wise men who followed a star to visit Jesus when He was born. "And behold the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was." (Matthew 2:9)

The traditional Polish Christmas meal comprises 12 dishes, meant to give good luck for the following 12 months. Poland is largely a catholic country and so the meal is usually meat-free, to remember the animals who took care of baby Jesus in the manger. The 12 dishes symbolise Jesus's disciples, and one of the courses is often beetroot soup, a taste I acquired whilst living and working in Poland. Carp is often the main dish, which is traditionally bought live a few days earlier, and swims in the bath until the lady of the house kills it! Nowadays, most people simply buy carp fillet, especially those who only have a shower, and no bath.

Presents are opened on Christmas Eve, too, but not until the meal is finished, and everyone is expected to at least taste each dish. Nativity plays are popular in Polish schools but are often more secular than religious, and sometimes the Christmas story is translated into modern times.

Whatever your plans to celebrate this Christmas, wherever you are and whoever you're with, I truly wish you a blessed, peaceful, safe and healthy time.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please would you share it with family, friends, colleagues - anyone who you think might like to read it.

No Christ, no hope - know Christ, know hope.

Love, Ann ❤