Do you remember (or are you too young?) the episode of ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ with Alf Garnett telling his family about the birth of Jesus? He had to be born in a stable, because there was no room for him in the Inn. “Well, it was Christmas” says his wife Else. “Everywhere’s busy at Christmas!” Silly moo, of course – it was the other way round, because Jesus is the reason for the season. As the history books tell us, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, 6 miles from Jerusalem, and as the Bible tells us, this was the fulfilment of God’s promises and prophecies over many generations; Jesus’ remarkable life is also a matter of public record, and so it’s hardly surprising that Christians gather together (mass) to celebrate the birthday of the Messiah (Greek: ‘Christ’). And so the Festival became known as Christmass.
There are people these days who bemoan the commercialisation of this wonderful season, and others who would want to “take Christ out of Christmas”. I’m neither; the fact that God loves the world so much that he sent His Son, born as a baby, expecting to give up his life for the sake of humanity’s eternal future, is so wonderful to me that I want to celebrate it as much as possible – and Christians as much as anyone will take any opportunity to have a good party! Let’s decorate every surface to celebrate the beauty of God’s earth; let’s send cards to show others we care about them, just as God cares about us; let’s exchange presents, large or small, to remember the best present the world has ever had. It’s also a fact that the story of Jesus is told in so many ways at this time of year, and his name is on people’s lips, in homes and on the airwaves more than at any other time – that’s great!
So let’s all join in the celebrations. We hope you’ll want to join us in Church for at least one of the special services, such as the “Christingle” Family Service, the Carol Service, or the Crib Service. And as Christmas Day is on a Sunday this year, we have a service to fill that gap between opening the presents and cooking the turkey! New Year’s Day is also a Sunday, so we can make a resolution to start the year well. But if this season is going to be manically busy for you, you might also like to spend a quiet time on your own in Church – it’s always open during the day – perhaps to pray in our new Prayer Sanctuary, by the side altar.
I’ll be praying that you receive and give lots of love, joy and peace, and that there will be room to welcome Jesus, the reason for the season. Have a wonderful Christmass!
Yours in Jesus