faithbook A message for quiet meditation
by JAN FARROW, Lay Reader at Holy Epiphany
Here we are in the middle of another lockdown and I am sat at my laptop thinking about Christmas. I have already sorted some Christmas gifts for the family, bought a Christmas magazine so I can drool over the indulgent recipes, begun to make some cards, planned where the decorations and lights are going, even the chiming clock has been playing Christmas carols for almost a month and we are not yet half way through November!
Is this what lockdown does for us? Many people I know are now looking ahead in anticipation of a celebratory Christmas, more so than usual I think. Why? Well that is just the question I have been asking myself, or perhaps, just what aspect of Christmas is most important to me this year in particular?
A local supermarket tells me they are ‘Big on a Christmas I can believe in’ - really!
Well of course I know what the answer should be - you can’t take Christ out of Christmas and I do agree, but I want to sing Christmas carols, preferably in a church, watch the children’s nativity, go to midnight mass, etc. I won’t go on - you have the picture. This year is different, so I am sat here thinking, what is most important to me this Christmas?
Yes, I hope to see the family; we even have a day planned together, to eat and exchange gifts. But as my mind turns towards the traditional celebrations I am floundering, as we all are. Then I begin to reflect on the actual Christmas story itself and how we have actually made it into something it was not. We tend to celebrate a traditional Christmas card setting, rather than a strictly biblical one. There was no donkey, there was no comforting stable inn filled with cosy-looking animals. Shepherds bringing a lamb, no, but shepherds yes. Wise men yes, 3 no, and they certainly didn’t arrive as they do on the Christmas cards with the shepherds in the middle of a snow storm.
What the Bible does tell us is that the region was under Roman occupation, which would now translate into a lockdown with severe penalties for infringements. If you disobeyed the Romans you got killed (sort of puts Boris into perspective!!!). God came down from heaven into this dark situation, not one of luxury or privilege, or decorated with Christmas trees and fairy lights. Far from it. But there was light; John’s gospel tells us that the light came into the darkness and dispelled the darkness. And there we have the true message of Christmas, not the tinsel, lights, and baubles, nor away in a manger, much as I love to hear the little children singing it. It was about God breaking into the reality of a people afraid and living in turmoil.