Published in Challenge Weekly 2010
I have mixed feelings about Christmas. On the one hand it annoys me greatly. This is due to the incessant stripping away of almost anything Christian and its replacement with every possible excuse for rampant consumerism, materialism, gluttony, alcohol abuse and even family violence, which peaks at this time. The way most Kiwi's celebrate Christmas demonstrates perhaps more than at any other time, how much we as a nation are rejecting our Christian heritage. Sometimes I think it should be renamed, '-mas,' as there is no Christ in it for most.
On the other hand, for those of us who know and believe the story, it is a glorious time to stop and consider what it means. It tells us that God is a God in control of history. The story is full of fulfilled prophecies with Jesus born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), born of a virgin (Is 7:14 Greek Version), a descendent of David (Matt 1:6), from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10) and more. It shows that God acts in history to fulfil. This means we can trust him to do so in the future. It speaks of miracle, with a virgin conception and birth which importantly lays the foundation for Jesus' divine sonship. It tells of the determination of our God to save. When Jesus was conceived, the pre-existent God the Son, creator of the world, emptied himself and took on flesh. He became one with his fallen creation to save it from the effects of sins corruption. Christmas then is the story of the creator God becoming one with his creation, experiencing the fullness of fleshly existence and to ultimately go the way of all flesh, to die, only to rise from death to begin the glorious redemption of his creation.
So for us it is an appropriate time to pause, to tell the story, to marvel in awe, to ponder and to give glory to God. In a nation that continues to forget or recast the story into its dogma of self-gratification, stripping God out of it, we must keep the story alive. Those seemingly nerdy Christmas pageants then are greatly important, re-enacting the good news in this nation. The Carols, while seemingly so trite to many, should be sung with gusto. They are a constant witness that there is more to Christmas than self-gratification and a holiday. It is a holy-day, celebrating the enfleshing of the Holy Son of God. We need to persevere in taking Christ into the community to the schools, the Carol Singing services, and in the media. It is trendy to rev up the faith, modernise, make it relevant and attractive. This is good in one sense, it brings the gospel alive for a new generation. Yet, at times like Christmas, keeping elements of the tradition is vital, as when times are hard it is to those traditional memories that people go. So, this Christmas, tell the story, stop and marvel in awe, and don't miss the Christ who is Christmas. May God bless you and your family as you do so. Go deeper!