For most of us, Christmas probably includes rushing around to buy presents, seasonal food, drink and decorations for the annual celebrations. It’s also a good opportunity to send greetings to our family and friends and hopefully to visit them too. Many value the opportunity to pop into church for a seasonal service with familiar carols and traditions. But are these festivities anything more than just a midwinter lull before another year rushes relentlessly in?
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of the things listed above. However, the way we choose to celebrate Christmas can sometimes make it a strain for us or those around us, because of outside pressures and our own high expectations. It depends on who is in control. There is definitely a valued place for a wonderful pause and some time together in our madly busy world. In a different era, even opposing troops in the First World War had a short Christmas truce, with some even playing football together in no-man’s land.
On one of the darkest, coldest, shortest days of the year, we pause to cele-brate one of the brightest, most heart-warming events in all of history, with the longest-lasting impact. The joy of Christmas is rightly and wonderfully shared through songs and stories, celebrated with food and family, and enlivened with lights and laughter. It’s also much more than the sum of its parts…
Today’s Christmas customs and traditions come from many different times and places, some even from Roman and pre-Christian times, adapted to celebrate the universe-changing good news of Jesus’ birth. Others come from many continents and cultures, as well as a huge number from the Victorian era and more recent times. We probably all have our favourites. Ultimately, it doesn’t particularly matter how we celebrate. The important thing is that we look beneath the commercialism and even the religious activities, in order to wonder again at the mysterious Truth at its heart. Not merely a tradition, an idea, an object or a philosophy, but a Living Person who wants to know us and love us, more than we could ever ask or imagine. Eternally.
Do have a Happy Christmas and a flourishing New Year.
Fred & Angela Olney