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In Season and Out of (Festive) Season

December 13, 2013

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…” – but how many people have goose for Christmas nowadays? (Actually, quite a few, if my quick Google search is anything to go by.) When was the last time you saw a partridge in a pear tree – never mind actually sent one to your true love? 200 years ago, nobody knew about Father Christmas; in Sweden, before Santa Clause arrived from America in the 1800s, the Christmas Billy Goat used to bring presents. And I personally don’t decorate the hall with boughs of holly…

It seems even Christmas traditions change, albeit slowly. The songs we sing may be time-honoured carols, but most of them are only a few centuries old. Christmas presents used to be limited to one or maybe two per child; try that this year on your children or grandchildren, if you dare…

And of course, another big change is the shift of focus from Jesus to presents / food / family. People who go to church during Christmas will still hear about the baby born in a manger (although he obviously wasn’t born in the manger); many people won’t set foot in a church during the holidays, so how will they hear?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with a cheerful family celebration in the bleak midwinter; and maybe it doesn’t matter that much if people don’t associate Jesus our Lord with the crass commercialism that seems to take centre-stage throughout December. After all, our pagan forefathers already had a celebration at around the same time – the church chose the date of Christmas not based on when Jesus was actually born, but because they wanted to “Christianise” the festival that was already there.

So what should we do? Well, if Mammon has hijacked Christmas, let’s not despair. Jesus is relevant all year round, not just at Christmas; the “festive season” gives us a chance to point to him in a special way, but we should really be pointing to him all the time.  And in these days, when the kingdom of Mammon seems to be offering nothing but hardship, spending cuts and delayed retirement, we might find that the message of Jesus, who came to earth to die on a cross in order to give us forgiveness and eternal life, will resonate with people around us; not because of the tinsel on the tree but because of His wonderful love!


From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

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