For those of you who LOVE Advent and Christmas as it presents itself to us, year-in, year-out, please feel free to read no further!
For those who find a bit of seasonal dread within themselves about the full up diary of December, the “must-do’s” and “Oh-that-one-again!’s”… - Let me share with you some hope. I’d like to do so by pointing the way to our Holy Habits programme, which we’ll kick off on January 6th (the Feast of Epiphany) at our Joint Service.
In Acts 2, 42-47 we read about the early Christians: They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. (…) And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. (…)
It doesn’t say: Every year, they celebrated Jesus’ birthday in a very certain way, making sure the meal was always the same and piping hot when it miraculously arrived on the table. (Anyone slaving away on their own in the kitchen??)
It also doesn’t say: They were completely stressed about the kind of presents they would give to each other whilst pretending (and telling their kids) some bearded fantasy bloke had anything to do with it.
Here’s the Good News: We are free in Christ! We can comply (with the pressures of the consumer Christmas, of “tradition”, of our own or other people’s expectations), but we don’t have to. It is up to us!
I don’t think Jesus minds us celebrating his birthday. I do think though that he’d like this celebration to be more reflective of his teaching.
Inviting non-family members comes to mind, making space for others, eating with “sinners” (others than just ourselves), giving generously to God’s mission like the poor widow in the temple (Mk 12), and not-being-afraid-to-stand-out-from-the-crowd. Obeying God more than the people, more than our tradition, more than the dictate of happy TV.
“Whatever you have done for any of these, you have done for me.” (Mt 25)
With love to you all. Yours in Christ,