Peace reigns for frayed shop­pers

The Daily Examiner - - NEWS - THE REV CHRIS SPARKS

THE dreaded ques­tions. When are we go­ing to do our Christ­mas shop­ping and what on earth will we buy?

Yes, it’s that time of year, and the an­nual strug­gle to buy mean­ing­ful Christ­mas gifts is upon us.

What did we do last year? Ah yes. We hit upon a great way to bless fam­ily and close friends – and at the same time help oth­ers in need.

We bought spark plugs, riv­ets, jerry-cans of petrol and wind­socks. Then we helped to stock a tool­box and po­ten­tially save a life or two by con­tribut­ing to the cost of ur­gent med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions in New Guinea. Yes, we’ll chan­nel our Christ­mas gift bud­get to Mis­sion Avi­a­tion Fel­low­ship again this year and help keep that fan­tas­tic min­istry to re­mote com­mu­ni­ties do­ing what they do best: Help­ing the se­verely dis­ad­van­taged. That’s where our money gets the most bang for our buck. And as a bonus, the feed­back we re­ceived when fam­ily and friends re­sponded to the cards that in­formed them of the gift we had given on their be­half was heart­warm­ing to say the least.

So, we’ll side­step the ex­pe­ri­ence of Lucinda Nor­man who


writes of her or­deal while shop­ping for Christ­mas presents at her lo­cal shop­ping cen­tre.

The place was crowded and peo­ple had been push­ing, el­bow­ing and cut­ting in front of her all day. At one point she spot­ted a lace table­cloth – a 50% off spe­cial. Pick­ing it up, she was feel­ing the qual­ity of the ma­te­rial when an­other woman rudely pulled it from her hands, looked her in the eye and said, “mine”. But Lucinda grabbed it back and stared her down.

By 4pm she was tired, stressed and bel­liger­ent and sought some re­fresh­ment in a busy cof­fee shop that ad­ver­tised ta­ble ser­vice. She flagged down a server and snapped: “I need a cup of tea – now.” The wait­ress re­torted: “I’m not your server. Wait your turn.” Lucinda re­sponded: “Lady, I’ve been wait­ing my turn all day. Bring me some tea.” But the wait­ress ig­nored her. A few mo­ments later, a friendly young man came to their ta­ble, smiled broadly and said: “I’m Rob, your waiter.” After he took her or­der, Lucinda watched Rob as he helped the rude wait­ress with her tray. He greeted the other cus­tomers and staff with calm­ing words and that ready smile. In the midst of all the tired cus­tomers and chaos of the sea­son, he had a po­lite and un­hur­ried at­mos­phere of calm. When he re­filled her teacup, Lucinda no­ticed a sil­ver ring on his fin­ger made of con­nected let­ters spell­ing Je­sus. Re­call­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence later she wrote: “From that mo­ment on, my at­ti­tude changed. This young man’s ex­am­ple had re­minded me of the peace that Christ came to bring.” And for the rest of the day Lucinda en­joyed shop­ping, opened doors for oth­ers, smiled of­ten and let those with a smaller num­ber of items to pur­chase take her place in the check­out queue. She’d found in­ner peace in a tu­mul­tuous set­ting.

The sec­ond Sun­day in the Chris­tian sea­son of Ad­vent, as we pre­pare our hearts for the com­ing of the Christ-child, the Saviour of the world, fo­cuses on peace. Je­sus is de­scribed as the Prince of Peace and in­ner peace is a gift he im­parts to all who em­brace him by af­ford­ing him his right­ful place as Lord of their lives.

So, may his peace be with you. Es­pe­cially as you shop.

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