Christmas Chore

Christmas is a chore. By this, I don’t mean the wonderful theology behind the nativity- that God Himself took on human flesh to live among us- but the hassle with which the season must be marked. I dread receiving each morning’s post; each day bring 2-3 Christmas cards for which courtesy alone demands a corresponding gesture. 

Then there’s the Christmas presents. What if I receive one but never planned to offer one in return? What if I embarrass someone because my gift is far more expensive than the one they gave me? What if I embarrass myself by doing the opposite? 

Of course, as a pastor, such things do not trouble me. No sir. Not at all. I love every minute. I enjoy racking my brains to find another five Christmas sermons and I love trying not to repeat the same old carols at every meeting. I love walking the tightrope between those believers who think that erecting a Christmas Tree in the chapel is the same as a pagan Asherah Pole, and those who think a tree-less chapel is surrendering to our culture’s aggressive secularism.

According to The Independent (back in 2014 admittedly, but I suspect little has changed), around 28 per cent of all adults say that they feel isolated for at least some of the festive period. Why? Most of us are off work and more sociable than we’ve been for some time. The media assure us that this is the time to play happy families, with TV commercials showing starry eyed children in matching pyjamas receiving expensive gifts from good-looking, happily-married middle-class parents. Those who have lost children, or parents, or partners, or indeed those who never had them, are wont to feel isolated.

Still, those majestic words of John come an-echoing in my mind: ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’. Forget the trimmings and hassles, the jobs and the chores. Far from being a time of loneliness and solitude, the God of real Christmas says we are no longer alone, for He is with us, for He is Emmanuel.