This is a strange time of the year. A weird hiatus in the normal run of things where strange things happen and are made to happen. Maybe it is an age thing, but at this time I begin to want to get back to the normal routine of life.
I can take a pragmatic view of Christmas from a Christian point of view. There is nothing to stop Christians getting together to worship together whenever they want. Given that there is still a cultural memory where the world still likes carols and singing to get into the “Christmas spirit”, there is evangelistic opportunity which we can make use of. This we did with a widely advertised Christmas services.
However, I am no great lover of Christmas as a Christian event. I feel that there is no point of principle involved in its observance. It is another ‘sabbath’ which is optional. On Christmas day I would just as happily not go to church, but give gifts and eat a nice meal with the family as a nice cultural festival. I find it strange that some groups of Christians want to go to the barricades to defend its observance with nativity scenes, special services and “Merry Christmas”-ing. Yet those same groups of people feel little concern to care about the weekly observance of the resurrection on the Lord’s Day and of the new creation of which they are part.
This year is complicated by the fact that Christmas day was on Sunday. For me there was a clash of interests. There was the clash of the desire to worship as normal. And there was the expectation of gift-giving, food prep etc. I’m sure we could do all this better, in a more integrated fashion, but for the time being it is a point of tension and I am glad it is over.
I love the incarnation of the Son. It says God has taken the initiative in salvation to deal with the plight of man. I love that fact that the event is trinitarian – Father, Son and Spirit are revealed. I love the fact that many, many majestic lines of Old Testament thought converge on the womb of an innocent young girl. I love the fact that the story does not stop in the manger but goes on to Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension and that his resurrection life is the life given to the church by the Holy Spirit. The story is not finished and I am privileged to be part of it.
But, strangely, Christmas as we (or I) have it just does not do it for me. There has got to be a better way.