(From Valley and Valence, December/January edition.)
When we think of the origins of Christmas – the baby Jesus born in a stable – it’s strange to imagine how it could possibly have come to this - from poor beginnings to the buying frenzy we now know as Christmas. (According to the Bank of England a typical household spends over £500 extra in the month of December.)
As I write this (mid-November) the shops are showing signs of Christmas with their lights, Christmas trees, cards, gifts etc, and soon the town lights in Dorchester will announce the glitz and glamour of this merriest of festive seasons.
I can remember as a child being very, very excited on Christmas Eve and was convinced more than once that I heard Santa delivering the presents. And Christmas is still a time of excitement and wonder for me, but for different reasons. I marvel at what God did for us that rst Christmas. He sent us his son to live amongst us, but more than that, he sent his son to be born, not in some grand palace but in a humble stable. God wanted to show us that Jesus Christ came, not just for the rich and powerful, but the poor and downtrodden. That is why the Christmas story of Jesus being one of us is at the heart of the Christian faith. God’s love extends to the whole human race, and Jesus showed us the depth of God’s love by willingly sharing in our poverty. Because He was born into a poor family, we know that Jesus understands what it means to be poor. He also understands the temptations and sorrows we all face, and he knows too the fears and guilt that trouble us.
In 2014 4.2 million Christmas dinners were wasted across the United Kingdom, according to Unilever. The figure is the equivalent to 263,000 turkeys; 7.5 million mince pies; 740,000 slices of Christmas pudding; 17.2 million Brussels sprouts; 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes. These astounding gures are made all the more poignant when we consider those who have little, who worry about affording the extras that Christmas demands.
Perhaps when we do our Christmas shopping this year we might add a little more to our basket to donate to the Food Bank (any of our churches or Martinstown Village Store will accept goods and deliver them to the Food Bank) and in doing so celebrate what Christmas really means with renewed excitement and wonder.
May the humility of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men, the joy of the angels, and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas.
Yours in Christ
Jean (Team Vicar, The Winterbournes and Compton Valence)