The old joke goes…
What did Adam say the day before Christmas?
“It’s Christmas, Eve!”
Sometimes Christians can be guilty of implying that Christmas has always been a Christian festival, even if we know it does not go as far back as Adam and Eve!
Is that true? Do Christians have a precedence on Christmas?
For many years before Christmas became a Christian celebration it was already a festival where people celebrated the earth and its seasons by bringing green branches into their homes to remind them that spring would come again, and lit fires to warm the darkness.
I wonder what is important to you as you celebrate Christmas? Coming to church, singing carols, hearing again the Christmas story? But what about all those, some of whom will be reading this, who can no longer get to church? Can they no longer celebrate Christmas? Has Christmas lost it’s meaning for them?
Of course not. Plus, many of us actually tend to spend very little of our time in Church at Christmas. In fact very few attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services as they are busy with their families. Does that matter?
Research has found that the most important things for people at Christmas are:
- Spending time with family and friends,
- giving presents,
- enjoying Christmas food and drink, and
- putting up lights and decorations.
But are they not what we as Christians also enjoy, and do they not echo our beliefs about loving and sharing with others and bringing love, light and joy into the world?
It also seems that that giving to charity is more common at Christmas time with people showing more empathy and compassion, again echoed in our Christian values.
Instead of bemoaning those who don’t hold religious beliefs this Christmas and complaining about terms like ‘Winter Festival’ or ‘Happy Holidays’, may we show empathy and compassion and realise that our Christmas is not that different to that of other people as we share common values.
Whilst we do not have a precedence on Christmas may we remember that the precedence of the Christmas story is that God became human in order to show the world love. It’s not how we celebrate Christmas that matters but how much we live what it means and show God’s love, justice, peace, and hope in our world today.
May you have a Happy Holiday and enjoy the Winter Festival;
as you bring Christmas joy by putting up decorations and lights,
as you bring Christmas love by giving gifts to others and charities,
as you bring Christmas peace by visiting or telephoning others, and
knowing and showing that Immanuel, God is with us.
Have a blessed Christmas that will help bring hope to us all for the New Year.