Christmas v Xmas

Imagine we are playing All Star Family Fortunes and I was Vernon Kay and we asked 100 people what they most associate with Christmas, what would be the top 5 answers they would give? There are any number of things that have become part and parcel of Christmas, some things we love others we hate! In your opinion, what’s critical to Christmas? What’s the one thing that if you were to get rid of it, Christmas would become unrecognisable? If you had to ditch one thing from Christmas what would you choose?  Turkey, mulled wine, crackers, the Queen’s Speech, Morecambe & Wise, Wham’s Last Christmas, the work’s Christmas party, Carols, Christmas Shopping, Sports Personality of the Year, Carols from Kings, Decorations, the EastEnders Christmas Special.

Of course there are some things that you can ditch and it’s still recognisable as Christmas. Personally, I’m very happy to do without the Brussels sprouts, sherry and the Wizard of Oz that were a permanent feature of my childhood. But I want to suggest that there’s one thing that if you get rid of it then all you’re left with is a bog standard Christmas. It’s adequate; but it’s not deluxe. The trouble is that for many of us is that’s what we’ve settled for. I know it’s what every church leader says at this time of year but bear with me, not only do I get paid to say this, I actually believe it!

It’s been said that if you take Christ out of Christmas then all you’re left with is a mess – xmas. I think that’s overstating it, but I like what he’s done there! Can I suggest that if you get rid of Jesus Christ then you’ve ripped the heart out of Christmas? He’s what Christmas is all about. They even named it after him! He’s the reason for the season. But we’ve lost sight of that amongst the tinsel, presents and stress. The Gospel of Luke tells us that the first visitors at the stable maternity ward were the Shepherds. They went to Bethlehem because they knew that Jesus’ birth was good news of great joy for all people. And so if you take the Christ out of Christmas then what you’re left with is bad news of real misery for everyone. It’s hard to get in the festive spirit with that sort of strap line, isn’t it?!  I’m not an idiot; I know that many of us are happy to settle for a Christ-less Christmas. We’re content with the bog standard version. That’s your decision! But why would you go for a Christmas that’s satisfactory, sufficient, passable or tolerable when you can have one that rocks!

Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years… Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.” During this Christmas season, may you be blessed with the spirit of the season, which is peace, the gladness of the season, which is hope, and the heart of the season, which is love.

Finally, maybe you would like to join us for an evening for all the family on this festive occasion with atmospheric singing of carols, old and new, traditional and modern, I invite you to “Come and Sing the Christmas story!”  We shall be in the Hoole Lighthouse Centre on Westminster Rd starting at 6pm on Sunday Dec 23rd. Mulled Wine, coffee and mince pies will be available afterwards. This is a great opportunity to step aside from all the hustle and bustle of all the preparations for Christmas and take some time to reflect on the heart of Christmas which is the birth of Jesus Christ.