Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Christmas Never Goes Away!

The earliest I have seen a Christmas tree was in a shop window around the third week in October.  I shook my head, marveled at Christmas coming earlier and earlier each year, and had a wee grump at materialism etc., etc, etc.  Add to this that there are Christmas shops open all year round offering everything you need to decorate your home and prettify your presents and it seems as if Christmas never really goes away.  Northern Europeans like us  tend to have a problem with this.  Christmas is  bound up with Winter traditions and legends and it’s just not the same unless there is a sharpness in the air, darkness to allow the lights to twinkle and hot chocolate to give us an inner glow.  

And yet what Christians celebrate at Christmas cannot be confined to a few weeks every year.  At the heart of orthodox Christian belief there is this outrageous declaration that at a particular point in human history God actually became a human being.  This was  part of God’s great rescue mission for a cosmos that had become subject to decay and a humanity that had become alienated from Him.  This is not something that can be restricted to an end of the year meditation.  If this is true then in the words of John Betjeman it is the ‘most tremendous tale of all’ and needs to be repeatedly told and constantly meditated upon:

‘The Maker of the stars and sea 
Become a Child on earth for me?’  

I understand why it might not feel right to be singing ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ in the middle of July but when Charles Wesley wrote this great hymn he did not have in his mind people caroling in frosty air.  He was giving Christian people the opportunity to celebrate and proclaim a great truth at the heart of the faith: God’s supreme revelation of Himself and His work to make possible His reconciliation with humankind.  In that sense Christmas should never go away.  The implications are with us every day and once understood and experienced  are a constant blessing.