One of the things I love about Christmas day is that for just a few hours there is a different pace to life. The shops shut, commerce is suspended, lorries are off the road and there is a pause in the rush and bustle of life. Christmas continues to hold the attention not just of our own country, but of many, many countries across the world.
During a school visit, I was recently asked what does Christmas mean to me. I found that the answer came quite easily as, for me, Christmas is about possibility – it is about the possibility of God. There is no proof about God because of the Christmas story. Angels, shepherds, wise men, gifts and a manger are much enjoyed details about a far bigger question. A question which is there each and every time we hold a newborn baby – what are the possibilities for this child? Few of us who are parents or grandparents cannot but have been thrilled at encountering all the possibilities contained within the fragility and vulnerability of a new member to our family.
The birth of Jesus offers the same experience, but he is also wrapped in a belief that through this child we encounter the possibilities of God – possibilities which embraced love, peace, gentleness, kindness, forgiveness and hope. I think that this is why so many people continue to be attracted to this baby of Bethlehem, for these possibilities are the very ones we hope to find in our own lives. During this Christmas time, congregations in churches will swell and I suspect that many of those unfamiliar with church will come to sing carols and mouth unfamiliar prayers because they are drawn to the services by the reality that we all want these sorts of possibilities to be part of our lives as well.
Christmas is an invitation for us to renew ourselves in the possibilities of love, of peace, of gentleness, of kindness, or forgiveness and of hope that they may become the stuff of our lives as well. I hope and pray that the qualities of life celebrated in this baby of Bethlehem will become ours, not just for a few hours each year, but for each and every day.
Originally published in the Cleethorpes Chronicle