The Kerith Centre has been packed over the last two days.
Months and months of preparation, at my best estimate around one hundred volunteers (worship, tech, drama, welcome, car parking, kids and coffee teams…that’s all I can think of so far but I’m sure I’ve missed some!), hours upon hours of rehearsals and thousands of mince pies each contributed in some way to the outcome of both the carol concert and our Christmas Eve nativity.
Carols were arranged, recorded, rehearsed and sung. Videos were filmed, edited, reworked and shown. Lights were positioned, programmed and blinding! Scripts were written, rewritten, edited, rehearsed and recited. Messages were prepared and delivered. None of these things were important on that day…the day that Jesus Christ, Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born on this earth in a stable to a peasant girl. As shepherds approached the infant Saviour, their thoughts were not on the traditions that would be annually practiced twenty long centuries after the momentous event they were but a footnote in. As the wise man arrived, having travelled many miles following a star in order to reach the one who had been born king of the Jews, even without knowledge of the unfathomable sacrifice that was to come thirty-three years later, their attention was not stolen by thoughts of carols, nativity performances or even mince pies.
They had come simply to worship him.
The had come simply to worship Jesus.
As though on a winch, time presses on inexorably, plowing through the present while the past holds on by its fingertips. Memories, moments and facts can eventually lose their determined grip and get dragged mercilessly into the realms of mystery. After 2,000 years, time has arrived at a critical juncture. In the secular world, the true meaning behind this festive season is hanging by a clenched but weakening fist, at risk of being pushed out of focus in favour of Santa Claus, gifts and that special, turkey-filled meal.
What a crying shame that would be.
Like the shepherds and the wise men from the east countless generations before me, I want my focus this Christmas to be on Jesus. I believe that as followers of Christ, we can extend a helping hand to the true meaning of Christmas and begin to pull it back to the forefront of secular thinking and strengthen it’s hold on time’s advance during this season. More importantly, I believe we can do it simply by remembering what the wise men and shepherds had travelled huge distances to do:
I love spending time with my family at Christmas. I love devouring my favourite meal of the year before enjoying the gifts I’ve received. I love the idea of Santa Claus. The last thing I would want is to abolish it – it’s fun! But my focus this season must not be on the act of celebrating. Rather, it should be on the cause of the celebration. Christmas is about ‘Emmanuel’…simply meaning ‘God with us’. God becoming flesh in order to restore the relationship between creator and creation. It’s fantastic to celebrate the birth of Jesus collectively with so many people, volunteers, carols, nativities, videos – the works. But it’s irrelevant if at my core, I forget to focus on the cause of those celebrations:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”