…but, of course, a big part of Christmas is that it IS and MUST be the same as last year, and as the year before. Fine, but one of our major festivals has been hijacked, and in many places has lost its Christian distinctiveness. It easily happens.
Joining in the Church’s celebration is a part of our doing something about this. If you have children, you’ll have the magic of school nativities. But there is a fullness and depth in our singing Carols together, in church, on Christmas morning, our hearing the readings and our symbolically feasting together.
David’s sermon 3 weeks ago made suggestions about how Christmas might play out at home. First, as a time of truth for all. Instead of buying the usual round of presents, a Mum of Grandmother decides to take the family out for a nice meal. She uses the opportunity to speak with honesty, openness and vulnerability about her life, maybe some of her regrets. She says “I am not trying to make you feel awkward. I want you to know I love you, and I want us to know each other and God better.”
Secondly, as a time of justice for all. After discussion with the family, it is decided to give one another only small, useful presents. With the money saved, they wrap up a parcel for Syrian refugee families, or for someone else with no capacity to make Christmas special on their own. (There are charities which do this, and of course it can also easily be done after Christmas.)
Thirdly, Christmas is a time of peace for all. We pray and long for peace in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and many such places – and for peace at home – we can all do something about that. For some men (and women) Christmas is really about a few big nights out with colleagues, friends and family. That can come at a cost. Rows at home, less time with the family and a headache in the head and in pocket can come in January. Moderating input of alcohol (and food) does not spoil the party – far from it, and can be the single best hope of peace at home being kept. Instead of going out one night, arranging something like a trip into town with family and friends to see a pantomime could be a real contribution to peace.