Friday 25 November 2011

Just Christmas?

This is a copy of my December article for our church magazine.

By the time you read this missive, the whole country will be in a state of fervour. The shops will be milling with people, decorations and trees will be going up in homes and offices, parties will be taking place, gifts will be bought and many people will be longing for a holiday. I am tempted to say, ‘For goodness sake, it’s just Christmas!’

Interesting word, ‘just’! At one level, it means ‘merely’, ‘only’ or ‘insignificant’. At this level, it’s a word that we overuse. ‘I was just saying ….’ At another level, just means what is fair, equitable, right and proper, and it is highly significant. The courts of our land administer ‘justice’, mediating between what is right and what is wrong. At this level, it may be a word that we underuse or in which we fail to appreciate the whole meaning.

Can we use either meaning of ‘just’ as a description of Christmas?

I think our celebration of the birth of Christ is the most important date on the Christian calendar. Some might argue that it is Easter, but without the birth of Christ there would be no death or resurrection. Christmas is not insignificant. It is not ‘just’ Christmas, it is the time when we celebrate the humble but glorious coming of our God, in human flesh, to be Saviour to the world.

What about a just Christmas? In our nation, the season tends to heighten the divide between the haves and the have-nots, and may pressurise the have-nots into buying gifts that they cannot afford for people who may need them, whilst the haves buy gifts they can afford for those who don’t need or want them! Is this just? Is it the right use of the resources that God graciously allows us to have? Or do we buy into the spirit of the age which is consumerism?

One church, Morningside Baptist Church, Edinburgh, has begun a ‘Just Christmas’ campaign. The idea is to think about Christmas differently, and maybe to spend just half of what you normally do on Christmas gifts and food. Since you would normally have spent the other half, too, you won’t miss it by giving it to BMS World Mission, Christian Aid or a similar mission or aid agency!

Food for thought? Maybe you will want to think differently about Christmas. It is not just Christmas, but it could be a Just Christmas!

Whatever you do, may you know joy in the Saviour Jesus Christ!

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