Mission Statement: To help people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and help them to grow in that relationship.

December Magazine 2017

 

I was listening to the radio the other day and an advert began with the words ‘What will make Christmas for you?’ I can’t actually remember what the advert was for, but as the advert continued by suggesting a series of festive essentials – a plump turkey, a real tree, plenty of alcohol, a new set of fairy lights and shopping wrapped up by the end of November – it got me thinking…

 

As Christmas approaches, there are so many ingredients which we are told (by those Christmas ‘experts’) are essential to ‘make’ Christmas the best celebration ever and yet rarely are we reminded that Christmas isn’t Christmas without Christ! The culture in which we live is relentless in its efforts to squeeze the last penny out of every shopper, and determined in some ways to secularize Christmas (‘Happy Holidays’ is increasingly encouraged as a less ‘offensive’ greeting to ‘Happy Christmas’), but Christmas is a festival which celebrates the birth of Christ and as Christians we should be equally relentless in keeping Christ at the centre of our own celebrations. I wonder how you would feel if your family or friends organised a great big party in your honour and then didn’t actually invite you to attend?

 

‘So what are you suggesting?’ I hear asked, as someone turns up ‘Snow is falling…’ on the radio... Do we need to scale down our celebrations and have a less extravagant party? Should we boycott the shops and not give presents this year? Should we avoid the queue to see Father Christmas or go for soup and a sandwich rather than turkey and the trimmings?

 

Absolutely not! I say let’s celebrate with as much joy and effort as we can muster – after all, the angels announced to the shepherds that this was ‘good news of great joy for all the people…’ (Luke 2:10). This news was the announcement of the best present humanity would ever receive and we should celebrate in a way which does justice to the generosity and extravagance of such a divine gift.

 

So why not embrace present-giving and remind our children (and one another) that we give gifts to help us celebrate Jesus’ birthday? Why not have a delicious Christmas dinner but set a place for Jesus at the table as a reminder that it is in his honour? Why not buy Christmas cards which say something of the reason for the season (imagine what effect a mass demand of Christian Christmas cards in our shops might have…) or an advent calendar such as the Traidcraft or Crayola Nativity ones, which focus on the nativity story? Why not make an hour on Christmas Day to gather together to give thanks to God for his ‘indescribable gift’ (2 Cor 9:15) – either quietly at 8am (St Margaret’s) or all-ages together at 10am (St Peter’s).

 

Let’s make Christmas a joyous celebration, with as many of the trimmings as you want, but let’s not allow the trimmings to take over or displace Christ from its centre. How often have we seen a child open a shiny box on Christmas morning, take out an expensive gift and then spend more time playing with the box or popping the bubble-wrap than delighting in the gift? Let’s encourage one another in all that we say and do this Christmas, both within and outside church, to make Christmas about Christ.

 

Wishing you a meaningful Advent journey and a very ‘Happy Christmas!’

 

Jonathan

 

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