Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Real Thing?

Down the artificial ski slope on a snowboard
Well here we are – the day itself.  Chestnuts roasting on an open fire whilst dreaming of a White Christmas which will make a Winter Wonderland, while Rudolph the red nosed reindeer settles down for a well-earned rest and the jingle bells quieten as Santa finishes his mad dash.  You know it’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Happy Christmas!  Yo Ho Ho!

And so the pressure is on us to have the perfect Christmas and to enter into the Christmas spirit and to have an idyllic day or two.  I actually really enjoy Christmas, but it seems to me that there can be artificiality to the whole season.  Sure I love feasting and laughter and giving gifts.  I think that is really important and precious as part of the rhythm of life.  But it is difficult sometimes to know what is artificial and what is lasting about Christmas.

The sad fact is that for many people Christmas is but a phase and several days after Christmas it is put away in a box until the next year.  It passes us by and tantalisingly beckons to us to grasp it and hold it for ever and yet seems to slip through our fingers and go on its way, until next time!  “I wish it could be Christmas every day”.

Very recently I provided transport for our youth group in the Portland Methodist Circuit to go to a local Holiday Centre where there is an artificial ski slope.  It is really good to have that facility not far from where we live and our youth group members and leaders had great fun snowboarding down the slope.  They enjoyed themselves.  The reality though is that the slope is artificial.  Many people benefit from having a good time on it, but it’s not quite the real thing.

Many people benefit from having a good time at Christmas, but that doesn’t mean it is the real thing.

The real thing is the fact that Jesus was born in accommodation that was pretty rough, laid in an animal trough which is pretty unhygienic, that he was visited by shepherds who were usually looked on with suspicion and wise men who were foreigners and who would have looked very out of place in Bethlehem. The truly amazing thing in all this though is the Christian belief that God was present in Jesus entering into this world.  Because of that nothing would be the same again.  Because of that God showed his love and commitment to his world and the people in it.  Because of that God can make everything different in our lives and in this world.  That is a revolutionary message.

Here’s the thing though.  That is a message that is not confined to over 2000 years ago.  “I wish it could be Christmas every day”.  It can be.  The thing about Christmas is that it is actually about allowing Jesus to enter into our lives, and it is possible to allow that every day.  So please enjoy the transitory things about Christmas – the fun, feasting, laughter, generosity…..  Those can be terrific things, but instead of the wonder of Christmas slipping through our fingers again until next year how about inviting Jesus to be born in our hearts afresh each day and committing ourselves every day to worshipping the God who chooses to dwell with us and make a difference to our lives and this world.  Then it truly can be Christmas every day! That is not artificial. It is real.

A most blessed, holy, and peaceful Christmas to all.