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The Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) is a profound illustration of communication at its very best. When words fail, actions can still do the job.

Having failed, through words, to impress on mankind the extent of his love, God decided to act, by taking on human form and coming as a child.

People respond to actions far better than they do to words. St. John says, "Let us not love in words only, but in actions as well." (1 John 3:18) And St. James says, "I will show you my faith by my actions." (James 2:18)

Sometimes our actions speak so loudly that people can't hear a word we are saying. The institutional church, for example, says some beautiful things about helping the poor; but the truth is that 90% of her wealth still goes into real estate.

A more religious word for communication is communion... with God, and with others. Communion is what love is all about. But to communicate with anyone, we must find a common language, or at least areas of common experience.

The incarnation (birth of Jesus) was God's effort to create areas of common experience between himself and us. (Hebrews 2:18)

He reached out to touch us and to feel what we feel. It is a sad perversion of the message of Christmas that we have replaced this concept of giving ourselves with that of giving material gifts.

"Christmas is for children," people say, as they buy more and more toys. But we would challenge the foolish notion that toys are for kids.

From the time they are born, children prefer human contact to contact with inanimate objects. It is only lazy parents who try to buy the love of their children (or get their children out of their hair) by expressing their love through toys. What children want is our time and interest, and this is something that money just cannot buy.

This Christmas, why not give your life (i.e. your time) to your family rather than material luxuries. In this way you will be truly communicating love... the way God has done with all of us through Jesus.

(See also The Xmas Spirit.)

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