By Colin Johnson, Neighbourhood Chaplain, Hockliffe StreetBaptist Church
Have we lost the true meaning of Christmas?” How many of us would agree? I decided to ask different people if this was true.
“It’s for the kids and family”, said one man. “It’s all money, money”, said another.
What would those who were around in the times of Jesus say? If we look in the Bible we see they speak of Jesus’ coming as Good News.
Christmas comes from the Old English “Christ’s mass”, a special ceremony where Christ is remembered and December 25 has been celebrated as Jesus’ birth for at least 1,600years. What other famous person do we remember because of their birth? Not a Nelson or a Churchill so why Jesus?
The birth of this man must have been very special and this is celebrated in many of the traditions we now have. For example, holly represents the crown of thorns Christ wore before he died and the Christmas tree is an evergreen fir reminding us of everlasting life through Christ, gift giving only became associated with Christmas in Victorian times and can remind us of the gifts the wise men brought for the baby Jesus.
In recent times much has been done to entice us to shop more. Rudolph the red nose reindeer, much loved by children, was created for a department store advertising campaign in 1939. Santa as we know him today, a large jolly man in the red suit with a white beard, first appeared in adverts for Coca Cola in the 1930s. The campaign to get us to shop until we drop has continued since.
We don’t want to put a damper on fun, especially for the children, but let’s change from a Christmas where materialism is king to one with a different king.
The people in Jesus’s day were waiting for someone to come from God to help them, set them free from their troubles.
The Bible records many years before Jesus’s birth that he would be a light to the world, a prince of peace, Emmanuel which means ‘God with us’. Isn’t that the meaning we are looking for?