Somers Park Methodist Church
I remember when I was a very small child being taken to see Santa in Beales Department Store, Bournemouth. My grandparents lived in Poole, so trips to Bournemouth happened regularly. Bournemouth itself was like another world with its gardens, its beach and pier, and yellow trolley busses which whirred and sparked along the road. Beales was a world within a world, where I could absorb myself in what seemed an enormous toy department. To see Santa you entered a door and sat in a small room. Soon the noise of sleigh bells started and images of snow covered trees would pass small windows, as if you were really travelling. After a short journey you would arrive at Santa's home, and there would be the customary sitting on his knee and being given a small present on the condition that you really had been a good child. It was a world within a world within a world, and quite magical, yet real to my three year old self.
The story of the birth of Jesus has been dressed up with glitter and tinsel to seem something quite otherworldly. Most people do not know what the Gospels tell us, or even who Jesus is. As commercialism has taken over people are more interested in the coming of the John Lewis Christmas commercial than in the birth of the Saviour, and who can blame them when that birth has become for most a little children's story, abandoned with Santa when we grow up.
What the Gospels do show us is something quite gritty and real, a long way from the tinsel adorned angels of the school nativity play. Here is a story of poverty and vulnerability, where Mary and Joseph become homeless and eventually refugees from political violence. Here, in a filthy stable, is born something quite extraordinary, for another world breaks into ours. God is not strange and distant, but with us, and the ordinary becomes a revelation of divine love.
Christmas challenges us as Christians to show that other heavenly world breaking into our own, making the love of God real in a world which so often runs away into the commercial fantasy of Xmas. God is with us, our lives become the stable, our hearts the manger where love enters in and changes everything. This is, in truth, what everyone really wants for Christmas.
With every Christmas blessing
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