One consequence of the lockdown has been a desire by many people to decorate their homes for Christmas even earlier than usual: completely understandable. Some have gone to extraordinary lengths to mount displays on their houses, in the gardens, on trees, and just about anywhere they are able. It’s a visible example of the consequence of all that has been happening this year and of the impact it is having on families and communities that they want to make the most of this celebration.
By far the most significant display, whatever shape it is, is light! Lights abound on everything: different colours, some twinkling, some flashing on and off, and some just shining unwaveringly.
There is something invigorating in moving from gloom and darkness into clear sharp light. For many this year has been a year of emotional gloom and shadows. Of uncertainty, loneliness, isolation, and in some instances even despair. Christmas offers a promise of family, sharing, feasting & celebration. When people decorate their homes they are sharing with others their desire to celebrate. But; what are they celebrating?
I haven’t seen any display in the streets, house windows, or shops that has anything to do with the message of Christmas. Before I go on, let me ask you a question and invite you to answer it for yourself. What for you do you celebrate at Christmas? What is it about the Christmas story which thrills you? (I realise that’s two questions!)
There is something from the narrative of the first Christmas which I think is a cause for real celebration. When it was first spoken of, it would have been incomprehensible: for many it still is. It is the most awesome declaration imaginable.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
For those in Christ, 2000 years later that statement is still true. God is with us. It almost sounds arrogant to say it yet it wasn’t any human being who came up with it; it was an Angel of the Lord. A messenger sent from God to declare it to Joseph a young man considering divorcing his wife because she was pregnant and he wasn’t the father.
Christianity is God’s initiative. Is God’s gift to humankind. He’s called you and if you say “Yes” to Jesus he makes you his own. He’s adopted you into his family and it’s a big family. He’s promised you’ll be with him forever. Now that, that’s is something worth celebrating! Alleluia!