It’s that time of year again. The hype-machine of the market place has begun churning out the plethora of adverts that will spew all over the place over the next few weeks, calling us to celebrate Christmas by buying this item or that item. The meaning of Christmas we’re told, is found in the purchases we make, the value of the gifts we receive and the look and taste of the food we eat. Christmas is a consumer celebration. The market place has hijacked our festival and ripped the heart out of it. Queue the customary grumpy old man moan. Bah humbug!
Perhaps I’m being a little harsh and moany. If I’m brutally honest, I enjoy giving and receiving gifts as much as anyone. The little boy who woke at 5am if not earlier all exited and demanding to know ‘if he’s been yet’ lives on in me. Although a lot of the season as it is celebrated now is about making money and getting gifts, there is something inherently right about the concept of giving to others. There’s more to the modern celebrations that that as well, there’s also in there a focus on relationships; Christmas we’re told is a time for children, for getting the family together, for visiting friends, for doing things together. Again, there’s a lot that is good about that, even if the pressure to make it perfect and spend lots of money on it is perhaps not in line with what our faith teaches us.
Truth is, of course, as Christians we have another story to tell. Our story begins even earlier that the hype machine of the modern advertising age. Is November too earlier to start thinking about Christmas? October? God started thinking about it before the beginning of time! He always had in sight the plan to send his Son to become one of us, an astonishing gift of grace and love, expensive beyond compare, in order to bring us into relationship with him as his children. We had a great discussion about this at the Bible Study on Wednesday (8pm, Slipe Lane, most weeks – please do join us!) when we found ourselves expectantly pondering this very issue. What is the right way to respond to the story our culture tells about Christmas? Do we accept it wholesale? Do we reject it? Or do we look for overlaps with our own story, opportunities to take what we have in common and build on it to share what has been shared with us? What do you think?
Church Newsletter 14.11.15