I have been thinking I would like to write something about Christmas for a while now and time has caught up with me. It’s now or never (at least for this year).
I note the practice of religious leaders, Heads of State, and even that flag bearer of virtue and humility, Julian Assaunge (WikiLeaks), to make Christmas pronouncements, and while I am not a member of such a club, if they can do it, why shouldn’t I?
I love Christmas. With it’s celebration of hope, love, joy and peace I hope you do too. Not all of us are Christian though and even many of us who are, are weighed and afflicted like everybody else by anger, fear, grief, and despair. In lots of ways I don’t think that matters. The beauty of Christmas is that it makes absolutely no demands on anybody. It does not require, expect, or admonish. It just is! Whether we lift our heads at this time and notice the infant Jesus, Name above all names and Prince of Peace; whether Christmas carols soften our hearts and bring memories of more innocent times; whether we experience the joy of giving or just the delight of receiving; Christmas is not just another competitor for our time and money. It’s not simply another thing to be endured. At least I hope its not for you. Christmas is just there; beautifully, breathtakingly, impossibly there. Against all human experience and effort it reappears each year to bring us a measure of hope, a parcel of love, a sprinkle of joy and at least a reminder that peace is possible. Not that we always unwrap the parcel or allow ourselves to believe in the gifts. But they are always there, requiring nothing of us apart from allowing ourselves to receive them. Even Ebenezer Scrooge could not hide completely from the blessing of Christmas.
Despite what I have just written I know very well that many of us choose to make Christmas something that it doesn’t have to be. Many of us make it into a burden that must be picked up or dragged behind. It makes our shoulders sore, our wallets empty and our souls cry out at the superficiality and purposelessness of it all. We spend insane amounts of money and time and effort buying gifts others don’t need. We gorge ourselves on obscene amounts of food and drink we don’t need. We buy expensive decorations that are pretty but are as shallow as some of the Christmas get-togethers we feel ourselves obliged to attend for fear of offending others.
It doesn’t have to be like that. We humans are the ones who make it that way when we forget to take the time to receive the free gift of God who became human just for us; just so we could experience a real life, not the one full of distractions and woe we manufacture for ourselves.
What if we took the time to listen to Christmas, and receive it’s blessings? Would it make a difference to understand deeply and instinctively that you matter to your creator? Would it be a blessing for you to come to trust God? When we sense/know at a level beyond reason that we are significant and that we are loved and that we are alive for a purpose, we can still enjoy the Christmas circus with it’s lights, bells and whistles, but we also know that the birth of the Christ child is the most fantasticaly good and liberating news anyone will ever hear; Christmas trees, decorations and stuffed poultry, ham and seafood etc. notwithstanding.
A merry, joyous, life-giving and uplifting Christmas to everyone, whether Christian, secular, Muslim, agnostic. Christmas blessings to every one.
I love Christmas.
(In this Christmas week I notice the government owned SBS channel, with it’s usual sensitivity and respect for all cultures apart from Judaeo-Christian ones, has showcased repeatedly physicist Stephen Hawking’s prime time pronouncement in that metallic voice that “there is no God”. Some people just don’t get it – but a merry Christmas to them even so!)