"…all I want for Christmas, is you!"
No, that's not right.
"Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way…"
Nope, that's not it either.
"So here it is merry Christmas, everybody's having fun…"
No! This just isn't working!
Sorry about this. It's the middle of November and as I sit down to write this, I'm trying to get into the Christmas mood but all I have running around the inside of my head are Christmas songs from television adverts! And I suppose that's because there are two types of Christmas, the commercial and the spiritual. The commercial Christmas starts sometime in the middle of October and isn't just about shops competing for our cash, it's also about our trying to outdo ourselves and produce an even better Christmas than last year. Whoever is in charge of the office party has got to be better at it than last year's organiser. If it's our turn to have the family round for Christmas lunch, our hospitality has to be better that whoever hosted
us in 2008. The commercial Christmas has a momentum all of its own and once it gets going, there is no stopping it. It gets into every corner of our lives and, if you are anything like me, you'll find eight weeks of Christmas jingles from the radio and television driving you to distraction.
Then there is the spiritual Christmas, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent (29th November this year) and moves slowly towards its climax on Christmas Day. There will be Christingles on the 6th of December, Carols in the Barn for all the family on the 12th of December and the more formal Lessons & Carols in one of the churches on the 13th, 15th and 20th. All of which leads us nicely into our midnight services on the 24th and the morning communions on Christmas Day.
We could say that that is what the spiritual Christmas is all about. But actually, it's only part of the story. We are all spiritual people, even those with little or no personal faith. We can't escape it, it's part of being human. Christmas is the annual reminder of how much God loves us and wants to be with us and share in our lives - which is what being spiritual is all about. The Christmas story is about the baby Jesus, born in a shabby stable in a little backwater town. But this tiny baby was unique in that he was the Son of God who grew up to be the one, who through the mystery of his death and resurrection, broke down all the barriers that we have built up, alienating ourselves from God. Christmas is about God coming to earth as Jesus Christ.
I suspect you have seen the advert for Radio Three on T.V. where a man steps into a red Radio Three logo and all the sounds of everyday life around him disappear and he is enveloped in gentle, classical music? That is what each one of us needs to do in order to fully understand and appreciate what Christmas is all about. As the media leads us in a headlong rush towards Christmas Day, I hope you will make some time to step out of the 'commercial' zone, step into the 'spiritual' zone and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas and then feel able to give thanks to God for sending Jesus to us.
I hope you will have a very happy and peaceful Christmas, surrounded by all those that you love.
With all good wishes,