“Christmas is great!” I wonder do you ever find yourself thinking or saying this with joy, or do you perhaps have some other kind of feelings going on and perhaps something of the opposite? It struck me the other day, that I can’t remember the last time I heard someone, at least a grown up, say they were really looking forward to Christmas! Why?, because I guess these days it is very easy to knock Christmas in all sorts of ways and for very good reasons:
- it is starting increasingly early….the first mince pies were in the shops in October!
- it is increasingly materialistic…the John Lewis advert started to encourage us to buy on 10 Nov!
- it is less and less about the birth of Jesus…I can’t find a nativity scene Christmas Card anywhere!
- it is costing more and more to have a nice Christmas…a 2nd class stamp is now 56p!
I am sure you could add to my little list and so easily become a bit of a ‘Scrooge’, or in more modern terms a ‘Victor Meldrew’, or maybe like someone other character in a TV series (BBC, ITV, C4, Netflix, Amazon Prime) I haven’t come across yet!
So where can we find the real meaning of Christmas? Where should we look? A few years ago, I took a conscious decision to try not to be ‘bar humbug’ about Christmas (even when it isn’t perfect) and instead to have as much joy and fun as possible in all that is good about it. Reading the following poem really helped me get things in perspective, and it might be something good to read around your Christmas dinner table?:
(based on 1 Corinthians 13v1-13)
If I decorate my house with plaid bows, strands of twinkling light and shiny balls, but do not show love, I am just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas puddings, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at meal times, but do not show love to my family, I am just another cook.
If I work at the soup Kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on Jesus Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love does not envy another’s home that has co-ordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love does not yell at the children to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Computer games will break, cashmere jumpers will wear out, golf clubs will get lost.
But the giving and receiving of Christmas love will last for ever.
The real Christmas, it is about the love and fullness of life that comes from Jesus Christ who was born 2000 years ago, and we celebrate on 25th December as Jesus said: ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.’ John 10v10. If you would like to find out more about this real kind of Christmas, you would be welcome to come to any of the forthcoming Advent and Christmas services at St Peter’s, Blessed Mary or other local Bishops Waltham churches. You would also be welcome to come on the Alpha course we have starting on Wednesday 17th January 2018. Alpha is an opportunity ask and talk about questions we may have and to explore how to make the most of our life. For further details, please do pick up a leaflet, or look on our facebook page @StPetersBW or on our website www.stpetersbishopswaltham.org.uk
With my prayers for a wonderful and great Christmas
Revd James Hunt – Rector St Peter’s and Blessed Mary
15th December 2017