This year we have decided to produce our own Christmas card. We are not designing it from scratch, I’m using one of Dave Walker’s wonderful cartoons for the cover. If you go and have a look now you can probably see this image that we will be using. (spoiler alert)
One of the things I like about the cartoon is how Dave has brought together so many of the different aspects of the regular Christmas in one image. It must’ve taken a very long time for him to compile the cartoon (as you can tell from his drawing of the wise men). If you haven’t already rushed off to see the image, and if you don’t think you’re likely to be on my Christmas list (sorry), don’t have a look.
If you asked 100 people to define Christmas you may well get 100 different answers. This is reflected in Dave Walker’s Christmas cartoon. There are many occasions when I have used Christmas sermons and addresses to try to get people to think about the real reason for the season, and I will probably do so at different times this year as well. But I haven’t stopped on many occasions to ask people what is important to them about Christmas. I have assumed that it’s not Jesus.
I have done talks where I have challenged everybody by saying that I have everything I need the Christmas and asking them to shout out items that they think I may have forgotten. It’s point of personal pride that I’ve not often been caught out. And in order to help people out I have begun with Jesus as the answer (because he usually is) and placed a nativity scene on the table. As I removed all of the other items one by one from my bags I gradually would obscure the nativity scene, making the point that we can obscure the real reason for the season by all of the trimmings.
You see I don’t think God is particularly down on us enjoying ourselves at Christmas. He wouldn’t have sent a myriad of angels to proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest,” if he didn’t want people to celebrate the birth. We may need to ask ourselves questions about how much we spend, extravagance and waste but if Christmas put a smile on people’s faces that is surely a good outcome. If Christmas means that people make their regular annual journey to church for the carol service then ‘Hallelujah!’ I would much rather people had a positive experience of an encounter with God’s people than that they were made to feel guilty for the other 51 Sundays of the year when they are not in church.
Jesus came kicking and screaming into the world in an outhouse in a small town in the backwater of the Roman Empire, unnoticed by many people, yet he has made a bigger impact in human history than anybody else. If he can do that then, he can surely do it now starting from where people are and enjoyment they get from Christmas.
Be blessed, be a blessing.