‘Did you have a good Christmas?’ A familiar question still doing the rounds this week as life returns to ‘normal’. Like me you may respond, ‘Yes thank you – and you – how was yours?’
Is it to do with
• Who we spend it with?
• Friends and family?
• Our health – how we feel on that day?
• The turkey – tender, tasty, well cooked?
• Were the presents good – given and received?
• Did everyone get on together this year?
• Was it peaceful or hectic?
Or is there more to it? What do you reply when you are asked, ‘Did you have a good Christmas?’
And I wonder some more – does it go deeper than we may think? This idea of a ‘good Christmas’? A clue perhaps in this under-rated carol?
‘God rest you merry, gentlemen,
let nothing you dismay,
for Jesus Christ our Saviour
was born upon this day,
to save us all from Satan’s power
when we were gone astray:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.’
A clue which is calling us to look beyond the Bethlehem baby – beyond the rabbi preaching and teaching, loving and healing in Palestine – beyond his death and resurrection – beyond his ascension – beyond Pentecost – beyond time and space. A call to set this ordinary, everyday event of the Bethlehem birth into the great sweep of history – what I usually talk about as the bigger picture.
And who better than the Apostle Paul to remind us that ‘In him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …’ (Colossians 1:15,16).
The traditional Jewish understanding of a good God and a good creation is swept up into something even bigger. For Paul the beginning and end of the Christian story is Christ. The Word – the Living Word – which brought peace onto the raging waters of creation and ultimately will bring peace to a troubled world.
This may seem a long way from the vulnerable baby whose birth we have just celebrated …
And yet – isn’t the Bethlehem birth of Jesus part of the story of God’s creation? And isn’t the reconciliation in Christ of creation with its Creator – however we understand it – God’s greatest gift to us?
What a gift! A gift offering hope, peace, joy and love
A gift to hold us however it is for us – happy or sad – in good times and bad – in hope or even in despair. A gift not just for Christmas but for all the year and for all time.
‘Did you have a good Christmas this year?’
Rev Angela Hughes