When the Music Fades, What is Christmas Really About?
With continuing uncertainties about what the New Year will bring, for many, this Christmas and the weeks leading up to it, may have been a bit flat. And maybe that’s a good thing!
I walked into shops with the music blaring, yet I find myself not really listening to it, usually I like to sing along, but it is so uncomfortable singing in a mask anyway. The music fades in my head, as do the subliminal messages urging me to buy, buy, buy. The mesmerising rhythms fall into insignificance, and I head for the exit pondering…
So, what if I didn’t get that extra apple-pie, or the kitchen towels (non on Lidl’s shelves anyway), and what about those last-minute stocking fillers? And so, I ask myself, what is Christmas really about?
Some of us have regular family meals, so Christmas is not about having a meal together. Over the year, outside of birthdays and Christmas, some families find opportunities to give gifts – even if it is putting some special food item into your shopping basket because you know a particular friend or family member will enjoy it. So, Christmas is clearly more than gift giving. More and more families are having game nights, or find opportunities to come together (cinema, pubs, bowling etc), so again, Christmas is more than coming together to play games, tell jokes and have fun. And so, I ask myself again, what is Christmas really about?
It would appear that Christmas is more than the sub-total of what we have made it out to be. I try to understand from a non-Christian perspective, and yet again I ask myself, what is Christmas really about? I scroll through my messages and play a video… That’s when it hits me! When the music fades and we strip it right back to basics, Christmas is about creativity and simplicity. I watch again the video of an amazing group of children, singing and dancing along to Feliz Navidad. They demonstrated their creativity in not only their free and synchronised dance moves, but in their use of simple items to create music. There were bowls for drums, empty plastic bottles doubling up as microphones and guitars. O, the simplicity of it all. The sunshine, the greenery, the smiles and laughter. What on earth could be more creative, yet so simple?
The name of God, Elohim, demonstrates two aspects of His character. The Hebrew word El describes God’s greatness and power; Elohim is the God who creates. Elohim, through his might, power and creativity spoke the world into existence. Over two thousand years ago, through the creative miracle of the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived and gave birth to Jesus. In a simple stable, creativity and simplicity merged into one, as our great God made himself vulnerable through the circumstances of his birth, and later, as a refugee in Egypt. The recording of time was changed forever, so that today, in the Year of Our Lord 2021, we can celebrate Christ in Christmas.
Putting Christ at the centre of Christmas is a creative yet simple act – in fact, once Christ occupies His place, the totality of Christmas is established. It’s like Christ is the magnet attracting all the other aspects of Christmas. What is the point of having Christmas celebrations devoid of Christ? What then are we celebrating – ourselves? And yes, of course all those other things reflect the Christmas message: we give gifts because God gave us the gift of His son; we meet with family and friends, tell jokes, have a family meal because God calls us into fellowship with Him and with others, moreover, there is little joy in celebrating alone! We rejoice because the angels rejoiced as they announced the Good News.
Let’s not leave the Good News in a box for next Christmas though, let’s not leave it hanging on the Christmas tree of our hearts, let’s share it with the world, as the angels did over two thousand years ago. The Good News was first announced to simple shepherds in language that they understood straight away. It is therefore important that we, the bearers of that same Good News today, find creative ways in which to share this simple message of Christ’s love with others, every day of the year.