How I Realised The True Power Of Christmas
By Fin Sheridan
Did you that Christmas has been celebrated since 336, during the reign of the first Christian Emperor, Constantine? Whilst CBN hasn’t been around quite that long, the message of Christmas can become something that we’re so used to that it loses its meaning. Familiarity, as they say, breeds contempt – and if not contempt, then certainly complacency.
When we become too familiar, too used to something, we can so easily forget its value to us. A trivial example: when I get a new pair of glasses, I am so careful with them. I take them off gently. I make sure they are well cleaned. I take them off to play sports. However, a few months in, and I fling them onto my bedside table any old way. I don’t clean them. I’m careless with them – even though I still need them and they are still worth what they were worth when I bought them.
That’s the danger, isn’t it? We move from cherishing something, to becoming complacent, to finally becoming careless. It might be fine to do this with a pair of spectacles, but what about when we adopt this attitude in our relationships? This decline of value can find its way into our marriages, our parenting and into our relationship with God. It’s a subtle yet slippery slope.
And it happens to Christmas too. What began as “good news of great joy!” (Luke 2:10) becomes “Oh no, already?!”. The wonder of the Baby, ‘Emmanuel’ – God literally here with us, becomes something that we get used to (!) and then eventually something we even complain about.
“I don’t need to come up with something new and special to say about Christmas because the power is in the familiarity of Christmas.”
Even as I was thinking of ideas for this article, I was wondering what new thing I had to say about Christmas until I realised something. The beauty and the power of Christmas is that it is not a new thing. All of us know what happens in December, what’s celebrated on the 25th, what the meaning of Christmas is. Many of us will have sat through countless carol services and heard dozens of Christmas messages. We’ve read the book, watched the film and got the t-shirt!
I don’t need to come up with something new and special to say about Christmas because the power is in the familiarity of Christmas. In a world increasingly filled with uncertainty, turmoil and the worrisome, the solid, consistent moments of Christmas are a grounding force for us, not least because of the Christmas message. The Baby is born. The Saviour is here. The plan is underway, the redemptive game is afoot!
Whether you’re a tree-and-lights-in-November person or if Christmas just isn’t something you particularly enjoy, we need, more than ever, a season of joy. The announcements of Christmas aren’t outdated or in need of a refresh. They might be familiar but we cannot become careless with them for they are the hope of the world.
We need to hear that there can be peace. Peace with God is possible, because Jesus has come. Peace with our fellow man is possible, because Jesus has come.
We need to hear that God has not forgotten us or left us to our own sinful devices. Christmas is the time to remember and rejoice. He has stepped into our mess, born in a stable. Salvation is here, because Jesus has come.
We need to hear the message of joy. As depression and anxiety grips nations, the joyful song of the angels must be heard from our lips. Joy to the world, because Jesus has come.
We need to hear the message of hope. We’re bombarded with notifications all day long, many of them bad news. Our social media feeds are breeding grounds for comparison, bad news and disagreement. Unity is possible, because Jesus has come.
This year, and every year, we have a chance and a choice. We can quickly glance at the true meaning of Christmas, whilst busying ourselves with the countless things that have to be done. We can go to Christmas services, sing familiar songs and hear familiar sermons. We can enjoy the many joys of the Christmas season – food, friendship, family, seasonal drinks and a fantastic TV schedule. These things are good and fine. But we can also allow this Christmas, in all it’s cinnamon scented familiarity, to be a time that grounds us. A time that gives us what we need to heal from the tough times of 2017 and a time that gives us hope and joy for 2018.