Friends, this is for everyone who has already said ‘Yes, I’ll help’ and those who are about to!
You know that Christmas is a fevered month of activity on all fronts, including church life. This is for everyone who has already been rehearsing, for those who’ve said Yes to extra duties and filled spots on rotas, for all those taking any role in helping making this Christmas at St. Mary’s happen. Thank you!
Why do we do it?
This year we have a poem at the heart of our Christmas services. It’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’ by Thomas Hardy. It’s about a wintry day when it looks as though the earth has shrivelled and dried and all hope and life is gone. But then an old thrush appears and sings out an incredible song of joy. The last two lines record the poet’s sense that the thrush knows something that he doesn’t:
‘Some blessed hope, whereof he knew/And I was unaware.’
We’re the thrush, together as a community singing a song of hope.
Richard Foster, began his life-changing book ‘The Celebration of Discipline’:
‘Superficiality is the curse of our age.’
Amen to that. In many ways we are shallower now than when he wrote the book in 1980.
This year we have a tsunami of Luxury Advent calendars flooding the market, selling out in hours. Costing hundreds of pounds and full of pampering goods. Oh the deep irony that for us as Christians Advent is a time to remember Jesus coming to us in our poverty:
‘Thou who was rich beyond all splendour/all for our sakes becamest poor.’
Advent is a time of hopeful remembrance that when Jesus returns in glory our preoccupation with greed and wealth will melt away.
‘Happy Greggsmas’ reads the ad from the nation’s favourite High Street bakery, with a sausage roll photoshopped into Jesus’ place in the manger. It’s trivialising, the logical next step of a superficial culture willing to use anything to turn a profit. It’s calculating, as there will have been a marketing meeting in an office sometime this year where someone said, ‘let’s get some free publicity and stir up some column inches with an offensive take on Christmas.’
But let’s not get mad, or get even. Let’s go deeper.
How do we do what we do this Christmas?
However we are involved, let’s see ourselves as a team gently leading local people beyond the superficial and trivialising to the deep riches and truth of our faith. We are the thrush. We have a song to sing.
However we are involved, let’s give the very best of who we are, so that our guests can see this ‘blessed hope’ for themselves.