Certain Christmas Days go down in history
By Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The stories around the Christmas Day truce during the First World War and the game of football that took place between the lines are legendary, even though historians are divided on whether it actually happened or not.
This year will doubtless be remembered as the ‘COVID Christmas’ and there will be plenty of us who will testify for some time to come that, yes, that’s what happened.
But although it will be a ‘COVID Christmas’, and different as a result despite the temporary easing of restrictions, it will not be a cancelled Christmas.
Perhaps we’ll look back on it with a degree of sadness that we weren’t quite able to observe our traditions in the way we usually do.
But I wonder if at the same time, we’ll look back and realise that the stripping away of much of the ‘trimmings’ allowed us to appreciate a little more of the ‘turkey’?
Our Christmas practices have become gargantuan.
They begin in the late summer, with the onset of the marketing campaigns, and there with the gathering speed of a runaway juggernaut they take hold of us and hurtle us towards the 25th of December at a speed that allows almost no time for contemplation and pause.
And in the wake of it all, we’re left with more stuff, more debt, bigger waistlines and a resolution, similar to the one struck the year before, to join the gym.
For the avoidance of doubt, I love the trimmings.
The dressing of the tree, the planning of the Christmas Day menu, the exchanging of presents, the watching of ‘Home Alone’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ the parties and family gatherings – they’re all part of my Christmas.
But so too is rejoicing that Jesus came and that ‘God is with us.’
With less of those other activities, the trimmings, might it be that I’ll be a little more open to the main course, that Jesus moved into our neighbourhood?
With very best wishes that something of that joy and peace would be known to you this Christmas.
Loving God, fill us again with a sense of wonder at what you did for us at Christmas by sending Jesus to be born at Bethlehem.
Loving God, fill us with a sense of joy at the good news proclaimed to all the world that you love us.
Loving God, fill us with a sense of the peace on earth that you promise.
Our prayers we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Pictures: Riverside Parish Church in Dumbarton and the Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland.