Vol 2 No. 51 A Christmas Story

As promised, a brief story.

The first week of December found me walking in downtown Calgary in the general direction of one of my favourite haunts; McNally’s Books.

To describe the warmth, creativity and delight of McNally’s can only be accomplished if you visit it yourself. It has won several “Bookstore of the Year in Canada” awards within the last decade. McNally’s is great. The streets around the store are a mix of $100.00 meals and $2.00 pizza slices; the entitled well off, the soggy poor and everyone in between.

As I walked down the street in the late gathering darkness of a fall afternoon, I was the local police arresting three young men. One of those detained caught my eye. He looked so very much like my own son. He was tall (our son in 6’4”), well dressed, and calm as I walked past him.

About half an hour later I was returning back to the same spot where the arrests had taken place. The young man whom I had noticed before was now in the police arrest wagon (I have some Irish blood which tells me “paddywagon” is racist). The young man was crying and hitting his head against the wall of his “mobile” cell in despair. He was beside himself, and I, as a father felt an inadequate grief, sorrow, sadness and protectiveness for him…for him…but also for my own son. I immediately phoned my son to see how he was. He wasn’t in. while he turned out to be fine when we connected later that day it brought to a place of reminder of the bond between me and my child. It also reminded me of the powerlessness of a father who wants to protect or intercede for a child who someone else has apprehended (suspend for a moment the probability that the arrest was legitimate).

As I walked down the street in what was now darkness, the feelings of a father for a son brought me to the story of Christmas. We have understated the sacrifice of Jesus made in simply coming to live with us in the first place. In His coming, I imagine the parting between the Father and Son at that first Christmas. After that December Calgary walk I can only begin to imagine the Father and the Son in that long time between birth and death and resurrection. I glimpsed the love of a father for a son, the worry, the sadness, the choosing to let things take their own course.

How awful that would have been for God the Father. I got a taste of that earlier this month.

I have told that story to several folk one of whom quietly told me that the story reminded him of his own youth and that maybe the night of despair might be what would change the young man. I hope my friend is right. I hope and pray and am restlessly drawn to that dark street, that despairing young man; a father anxious for a son who was not even his.

So, this year in a season of personal, national and international turmoil and reflection, I think and thank and pray for the gifts of a Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A Father who could “let go”, a Son willing to “leave” and a Holy Spirit who prompts us to remember and give thanks for both.

May we be aware of the pain around us.

May we have the same acuteness of caring as the Father.

May the Christ truly change the way we live out that concern.

May the Holy Spirit restore in us Christ’s compassion and animate us to live into what we lay claim to believe.

Emmanuel, God with us, each of us, and please Lord with all who call you Lord and who long to hear tidings of great joy “…for today, and each day is born to us a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.

A Holy, joy drenched Christmas season and year.



In Christ,

Jeremy Bell