In 2014 I wrote an article for the church newsletter reflecting on the various emails I receive that advertised Christian courses or books or new resources and each year as autumn comes the Christmas emails come. This has not changed and there are so many resources out there and to be honest I look forward to receiving information on perhaps how the Christmas story might be portrayed in ways that speak to our present context. I have always been struck by the challenging way that the Christmas Starts with Christ campaign encourage us to ‘advertise’ the message of the incarnation of God in Jesus. The comment and figures they and others quote are;
‘The Christmas story has been around for a long time, but today it’s being forgotten. Just 12 per cent of adults know the nativity story, and more than one-third of children don’t know whose birthday it is. Meanwhile, 51 per cent of people now say the birth of Jesus is irrelevant to their Christmas’.
Over the years they have had many striking ‘advertising pitches’ including the above that uses this disturbing picture which suggests that we celebrate the day that Father Christmas was born in a stable.
The facts and the picture should shock us and help motivate us into wanting to respond by taking action in thinking of ways that we as church and as individuals can reverse this trend. If we say that people have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas then do nothing about it, are we not committing more sin than those who don’t know anything about it? If we claim the greatest present at Christmas is God’s gift to the world but keep Jesus to ourselves, are we not guilty of selfishness? If for us ‘Christmas starts with Christ’ then surely we want to share that with others? Christmas is a great time to invite someone to church, it’s a great time to share in fellowship in all our activities. More importantly it is a time to actively seek opportunities to tell people about Jesus. You may say something like ‘what does Christmas mean to you?’ ‘What do you think of the Christmas story?’
I am sure if you pray for ways in which you can engage with those you come into contact with to share God’s love and the news that He sent Jesus into the world, God will open up opportunities to us. Will you be willing to take them?
‘I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’ Luke 2.10-11
May God bless you all as you celebrate Christmas ‘starting with Christ’ and may he guide us with peace and love into 2019.
Your friend and servant