The True Meaning Of Christmas?
This was a blog post I wrote for eden.co.uk (which does for Christian bookshops what Amazon does for all the other shops) based on one of my Fourteen³ sonnets from a couple of years before. It was part of an advent series, with one post each day of December leading up to Christmas and was published on their website on 23rd December 2017.
I choose belief in what gives Christmas worth,
In blind and broken healed and captives freed,
In saviour God who for my sins would bleed,
In deity incarnate come to Earth,
In angels, shepherds, stars and virgin birth,
In family time to laugh, relax and feed,
In stockings stuffed with things I do not need,
In starting every year with extra girth.
But if you cannot choose belief in God,
Believe instead in decency and peace,
Believe in joy and fellowship and fun.
Choose not to find the festive season odd,
But choose to let the Christmas mood increase.
If this we choose, “God bless us, everyone.”
It can be fashionable, in certain circles of Christianity, to rather pooh-pooh the way that many choose to enjoy Christmas. It is too commercial, they say; too wrapped up in greed, and the getting of unnecessaries.
I wonder if this approach rather throws the sprouts out with the vegetable water.
Within our churches, Christmas is given a prominence for outweighing its importance. The birth of Christ is discussed, briefly, in only two of the four gospels, yet the feast-day which commemorates it is given pride of place. In many church calendars, it outshines even Easter, an event which in the Christian view of history is supposed to be the pivotal event in all of time and space. And when was the last time your church remembered to stop everything for Trinity Sunday, the celebration of one of the key doctrinal distinctives of our faith? When did you last build a series leading up to Whitsun, the church’s Birthday and a key festival of the Holy Spirit? Why is Christmas, historically a rather minor feast, given such importance?
In many ways, the true reason for the season is the secular celebration. There is little doubt that most churches would not put quite so much effort into their Christmas services if it wasn’t a fact that it’s the only time of the year many people will turn up. It is only because of the commercialisation of Christmas that most will pay any attention to the religious side of it at all. Simply put: Christmas is significant because it has the best advertising (despite the best efforts of the hollow-chocolate-egg-industrial complex).
That’s why I choose to believe in all of Christmas - the good, the bad and the cheesy.
I will, of course, be going to church on the 25th - I will enjoy hearing about how He will be called ‘Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’, finding out what the kids got in their stockings and singing Hark The Herald with as much gusto as I can manage.
But I will also enjoy eating too much, giving and receiving presents, and watching the Doctor Who special. I will enjoy feeling festive, and cozy, and well disposed to others. God bless all of it, I say, and in the immortal words of Tiny Tim: God bless us, everyone.