All I want for Christmas!

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So, we could be excused for saying, ‘Here we go again!” Lockdown 2 as it has been titled by the media is upon us again and we are having to settle into another way of living for hopefully just a few weeks. After it was announced, it seemed that the couple of days before it came into force, the people of Maidstone decided to focus on getting all they felt they needed from the shops. As I had an appointment in the town centre on Monday, I ventured out and was surprised to see how busy it was.
But one thing that stood out to me, were the number of comments I overheard relating to being ready for Christmas! It seems that many people are far more organised than me and were determined not to find themselves without this or that for Christmas, presumably planning for if the lockdown should get extended into December. It was the length of the queue waiting to get into the toy shop that surprised me most. And as usual it got me thinking.
I think that in most years my catalyst for preparing for the celebration of Christmas is the start of advent. I too would be busy getting the decorations, the food and drink, the presents for friends and family and realising that I’ve not written the Christmas cards in good time, again! But whilst this year I may not be able to get everything exactly as it has been in the past, I should perhaps be taking this opportunity to consider what it is that means I can celebrate the birth of Christ – God made man, incarnate and living amongst us.
It should, I suppose, hearten me that Christmas is being celebrated by so many people, and that one of the principal festivals of the Christian faith brings an opportunity for such an amount of joy to so many people. How much of Christmas however, is about the birth of Christ? or is the focus more on having a good time, a moment for forgetting the trials of this year, a feel good party that just so happens to coincide with the most significant birth history ever saw?
We agree that it is right to celebrate, it is good to party and it is good to have a reason to look forward with joy. This then can be an opportunity for us as followers of Christ, of members of His/our Church, to remind everybody who is celebrating, what they are celebrating. We don’t have to force the message onto people, rather just take the chances to remind them that the clue is in the name – ‘CHRIST”mas.
How can we do this? Well I was encouraged to see a chocolate advent calendar in one of the main supermarkets that was based on a picture of the nativity scene. Consider too, what pictures do you choose for your Christmas cards – Robins? Snowmen? Reindeer? or
The Nativity? Shepherds & Choirs of Angels? Following a Star?
And how many of us will have a crib scene of our own in our home? Have I ever considered giving a crib set to my children or grandchildren? Every house should have their own crib, and the question that runs alongside this is, how prominent is it in my house – does it serve as a daily reminder of the season, and act as a talking point for visitors coming into my home?
But rather than spend our time and efforts bemoaning others lack of engagement with the ‘Reason for the Season”, we can see this as a positive opportunity for a spot of encouraging evangelism. We don’t have to be pushy and over the top, rather consistent in our message, ensuring that Christ figures in some way throughout the celebrations. This year, perhaps a bit more than others, there is a need to celebrate and experience some joy. What better way than to link it with the birth of Christ – the angels, the shepherds, the magi all celebrated, and so should we continue to!
We too can join in the early preparations – let’s ensure Christ doesn’t get left behind in what we are looking forward to.

Deacon Ian Black

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