Friday, 23 December 2011

Critiquing Christmas!

Peter Lockhart

I can clearly remember my very first sermon on the theme of Christmas beginning with the words “Bah humbug!” In many ways the season really has become the “silly” season. Greed and gluttony have been easy targets over the years as I have sought to lead people into a deeper contemplation of the meaning of Jesus birth – the incarnation.

This year as I reflected on this well worn path of critiquing Christmas, a path shared by many a nominal Christian and agnostic as well, I was struck by the danger of suggesting another approach to celebrating Christmas as if it too would be free from misunderstandings and idolatrous behaviour.

There are various movements around like the Advent conspiracy and Reclaim Christmas for which I have much sympathy. Movements which ask us to stop and reflect about how we are celebrating Christmas and whether there might be another way, a better way. I have no doubt there is but let’s not get confused about what we are doing when we shift the focus.

The mystery and promise of the incarnation is that God’s presence in the world has cosmic implications. God gives new life; God makes way for a new creation. It is this that we celebrate – God acting in human history to alter the possibilities of who we are in relationship with God and each other.

Altering our celebrations will not necessarily wind up making us any holier or changing the world into all that it has been made by God to be. Yet maybe altering what we do can express more clearly our faith and belief in God who come among us in Jesus and gives hope to the entire world.

May God bless you in your celebrations of the birth of Jesus and may you have a sense of Christ’s presence which gives us hope and can guide us day by day to live more closely to the one who made us and all things.

Peace be with you

Rev Peter

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