“What is Christmas for you,” Ebenezer Scrooge asks his impossibly good-natured nephew Fred, “but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older and not an hour richer?”
The final days of Advent are upon us. Soon we will listen again as the angel delivers good news of great joy for all the people: a baby, wrapped in bands of cloth, lying in a manger.
Are you ready? Did you prepare well enough this Advent to really open your heart to Christmas this year?
Me neither. But the good news is that what we celebrate at Christmas is not something we have to create. We’ll never do it right; we don’t have to. Christmas is God’s gift to us, given right into the heart of everyday life to people who had no idea what was happening. Into the chaos of travel and the census and childbirth: good tidings, great joy, for all people. It’s a gift we learn to unwrap – little by little, Christmas by Christmas – over the course of a lifetime.
So, what is Christmas for you? God knows people have tried hard enough to put it into words. In the chaos of our own lives as in the chaos of Bethlehem: “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” and “to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray” and “God so loved the world” and “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Each year we gather to remember it, to imagine ourselves into the scene, to let it work in us, helping us discover that little bit more what Christmas is for us right now. I hope you can join us here at St. Martin’s as we celebrate this great gift together — our services are at 5:30pm on Christmas Eve, and at 10am on Christmas day. But, wherever you celebrate Christmas this year, whether you are here with us or with other loved ones far away, may God, who sent angels to proclaim the glad news of our savior’s birth, give you joy and peace.