This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on December 20 2015.
For many years Christmas has not been a particularly special time of year for me. My parents announced to my brothers and I that they were going to separate on Boxing Day when I was fifteen, and when I became a Christian I was dismayed at how little of the nativity and the gospel that Christmas time could have. Christmas is an occasion to remember and share the rich significance of this sacred day, but it is easily lost behind the gifts and the family time.
More recently I’ve been trying to enjoy Christmas for its biblical significance. The carols we sing help with that. I find them much more declarative of the gospel than most church songs we sing. I’ve also discovered that a good deal of the Christmas paraphernalia has worthy religious origins, even if they are overlaid on ancient pagan things. For example, evergreen (Christmas) trees were apparently adopted in the 1500s to celebrate the eternal life offered in the gospel. Candles (now Christmas lights) symbolise Christ as the light of the world. Holly speaks of his crown of thorns. Bells signify the ‘ringing out’ of the good news. Things like these are making Rachael and I consider how we can introduce more of Christ into our family’s experience of Christmas. The following website has some helpful information on Christmas traditions: www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/the-origin-of-christmas-traditions-and-christs-birth-1457395.html
Strive to keep Christ at the centre of your thoughts on Christmas. Don’t lose the spiritual depth of Christmas because of its pagan association. Don’t miss the spiritual delight of Christmas because of the commercial association. And don’t forget the spiritual despair of the world because of Christmas and the good times we enjoy at this season.