It can be easy to fall into the belief that Christmas is just a festival designed to make us feel better during the long, cold, dark, winter months. I often hear people say that Christians stole the idea from pagan celebrations, such as the Roman feast of Saturnalia, when people ate, drank and made merry to celebrate the shortest day of the year and the fact that from then on days would start to get longer.
However, having spent 6 years of my life in the southern hemisphere, when Christmas is celebrated during the long days at the height of summer, I can assure you that cold and darkness are not a necessary condition for Christmas cheer. On the contrary, even though carol-singing there is done outdoors by the light of the sun, rather than gently illuminated by the glow of candles in a darkened church, and lunch may be a barbecue and salad rather than turkey with a heap of steaming sprouts followed by a flaming (and stodgy) Christmas pudding, the feeling of rejoicing and hope for the future remains.
This is, of course, because in both northern and southern hemispheres we are all celebrating the same thing: the fact that around 2000 years ago God became human and lived with us on earth in the person of Jesus. In other words, just as pupils in our school learn, ‘Jesus is the reason for the season!’ It is because of this that we now come together to sing carols, share gifts and eat (probably too many) mince pies. Thanks to that one-off event in Bethlehem two millennia ago people all over the world will gather, just as we do in homes and at churches in West Kingsdown, to reflect on and to celebrate the amazing mystery of God becoming a human baby.
The fact that some people do this under the blazing summer sun while others trudge through deep snow with frost sparkling on the surrounding fir trees makes no difference to the feeling of excitement and joy which Christmas brings.
So we don’t need snow to feel Christmassy, nor do we need the latest expensive toy or designer handbag to be wrapped for us under the Christmas tree (nice though these might be). We already have God’s greatest gift and it came in the form of a baby, born in a stable in a land far away.
I look forward to celebrating that with you this year.
The Rector, Reverend Sarah Corry, can be contacted on 01474 852265, or use our contact form.
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