What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Christmas’? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Snow? A big fat man in a red and white suit? Gifts (and lots of them)? Time with family? Exotic holidays abroad? Shopping? The list could go on and on . . .
Some of the things I think of are: What Christmas themed songs can we sing at chuch? What music am I going to play at the school Christmas disco? Oh help, I don’t know what gift to get Dad!
Christmas is indeed a busy time, and an important time. It’s pretty obvious that consumerism has cashed in on Christmas as well as it being pretty obvious that we need to keep Christmas about Christ – however this blog is not about that – well not entirely . . .
I want to talk about (with you) the romance of Christmas. What I mean by this is the sort of things that get ‘dressed up’ as Christmas, that sparkle and tinkle. Yes perhaps they help to add a bit of Christmas magic and mystery to the festivities, but do we even really notice they are there? I mean even songs that are sung at Christmas Carol services that have noting whatever to do with the real meaning of Christmas, but talk about the romantic ideals we hold about it are ever present and it is so easy to sing the familiar tune without thinking too much about what it is we are actually singing / saying.
For example – hymns about holly bushes and Christmas trees – even ‘Away in A Manger’ irks me. Things have become wrapped up in a fictional romantic ideal, that Jesus (if he is even mentioned in the song / carol / Christmas play) is somehow not fully human ‘No crying he made’, or indeed that he is still some mystical baby who never grew up when we say prayers like ‘Dear baby Jesus’.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against having a bit of fun. And yes, even I have a Christmas tree up in the house. But what I am saying is – are these romantic ideals about Christmas helpful? To us as Christians and more importantly to those who are not Christians? I’m sure it makes people feel more comfortable when attending a Carol service to be singing about camels and Christmas trees – but is this really how we communicate the gospel?
Be More Mindful
I think part of the problem is that Christmas has become such a huge ‘festival’ in the Western world that is almost totally devoid of Jesus, and is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. So I guess it should be not much of a surprise that Jesus is being air-brushed out of his own story and is being replaced by sentiment.
As Christs’ church, we should be ever mindful of Him at Christmas and use every opportunity to help others to be mindful of Him too. I am also amazed at how Christmas is so ‘huge’ in Western culture, yet Easter which I believe is even more fundamentally important to the Christian faith is not (but that’s for another blog).
If you have any titles of Christmas songs that are not about the true meaning of Christmas at all, or have any comments to add to join in the conversation about the idea of a ‘Romantic Christmas’, please post them below.
And just so you’re sure I’m not a total scrooge – I hope you have a very merry and Christ-centred Christmas!