Christmas Eve afternoon and the remainder of my day will be structured around the Christmas Eve service at my home church. For others Christingles, Family Carol services and Watchnights will be complemented tomorrow by a Christmas Day morning service. These times to pause, and reflect on the story behind the tinsel and glitter, give substance to what otherwise could easily become a rather superficial binge of materialism and self-indulgence.
Indeed the relentless march over recent decades of the Christ-less Christmas is, I’m sure, one reason that the December festivities are wearing increasingly thin for many in our society. You see, if Christmas is just another excuse for a party it’s fated to just feel like more of the same in our affluent Western society. Other than the present giving will the next 48 hours be that much different from any other weekend of heavy drinking and eating too much? In the West of Scotland Christmas is just one of numerous excuses throughout the year for a bit of self-indulgence.
Without Christ and hollowed out of its spiritual truth Christmas just becomes a Reception without a Wedding. And like all celebrations without something to actually celebrate it quickly becomes jaded and even burdensome.
So this Christmas go to church and ponder – ponder the thought that in the depths of darkness a light began to shine. Ponder the thought that in a world of taking - God gave us the most precious thing He had. Ponder the thought that in the dreary succession of human failures something broke the cycle. Ponder the thought that in Bethlehem 2000 years ago something so profound happened that your life now can be different.
Then you’ll have a real reason for the lights, the gifts and the celebrations.
The wondrous Gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.