Prreparation for Christmas

It’s nearly Christmas 2012. All the preparations have to be made. The presents chosen and wrapped, the cards to write and send, the food shopping and fancy goods. And then there are the decorations to retrieve or replace, to glitter away in your home. There is an anticipation that something great is about to happen. For children it might be Father Christmas and all those presents. For adults it might be the joy of spending time with the family. There seem to be many layers to Christmas. What is the most important thing about Christmas? It is a good question to ask and one that will vary.
For the Christian most of our preparations are like the icing on the cake. The real substance is hidden from view but it is there. At the heart of Christmas lie truths profound and moving. That God entered our world as a baby for the purpose of redeeming it. Christmas is about Christ.
On that first Christmas Mary and Joseph must have had a sense of anticipation. They had done their best to make ready for the arrival of their baby. Joseph had found a place in a stable at the back of an Inn where Mary could give birth. Amidst the straw they waited as Mary went into labour. There is a simplicity to this scene which resonates with the birth of us all into the world. The pain of labour and then the joy as this new small baby is born, so vulnerable, yet an object of wonder.
What a privilege it must have been to be present at the birth of Jesus. God had allowed himself to be that vulnerable baby. This is the joy which gives meaning to our Christmas celebrations and which we sing about in our Carols. It is the real Christmas, the first Christmas. All the trimmings, decorations and presents only have meaning if Jesus is at the heart of it all. What is it like to celebrate Christmas without Jesus? I cannot ever remember not, though as a child the presents did seem to occupy the mind. As a teenager I discovered the midnight Communion Service and this gave a depth to Christmas which made all the festivities that much more enjoyable. The words ‘Unto you is born this day a Saviour’ have special meaning when you hear and receive them on Christmas day.
This December let us receive Jesus who was and is Christmas. ‘O Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin, and enter in be born in us today!’