I’ve always been a great fan of Christmas. Long before I became a Christian, I would look forward each year to singing carols and rehearing the Christmas story … without really appreciating what the words meant.
I love the rituals. There’s the joy of clambering into the loft to retrieve the Christmas tree lights … only to wish that you had bought those replacement bulbs when the lights were put away last January as they’ve now stopped making that model of bulb.
There’s the tradition of going to the garden centre and driving the harassed assistant mad as you ask them to take the netting off countless trees and hold them up for you in freezing conditions as you search for that perfectly shaped tree. And then still find that your so-called perfect tree is lopsided when you lovingly erect it in your living room.
It’s all part of what makes Christmas such a delight, but amidst all the frantic preparations, it’s easy to lose sight of what Christmas is really all about.
The opening verses of John’s Gospel tells us that “in him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness”. God himself, the light, came into the world, a dark world, to overcome the darkness and bring hope and new life.
It is this we celebrate at Christmas, and what we need to remind people Christmas is all about.
It’s why we go around the parish knocking on doors and encouraging people to come to our Christmas services. Yes, there will be great carols, a warm atmosphere, mulled wine and mince pies. But it’s the opportunity to tell people why Christ, and hence Christmas, really matters.
We are now in the season of Advent – a period of eager anticipation. As we excitedly await whatever gifts might have been bought for us to unwrap on December 25th, remember that there is one gift that outlasts all of these – the gift of light, the gift of salvation, hope and eternal life, ushered in on that day when God became incarnate. That’s what we sing to the rooftops when we belt out the carols this advent.
Terence Russoff (Curate)