Christmas: It’s Just Around the Corner!

Every year I approach Christmas with a certain double mindedness. On the one hand, I welcome the opportunity to celebrate an event that, alongside the death and resurrection of Jesus, is wonderful and overwhelming—the birth of God’s Son! But I also struggle with how secular, commercial, shallow—and therefore meaningless—those celebrations can be.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Ever since the fourth century,when Constantine decreed that the festival of the winter solstice should be combined with the church’s celebration of the nativity, Christmas has been a mixture of pagan revelry and Christian celebration.
In the weeks ahead, millions of people will gather around Australia to sing carols. Whatever the beliefs of those participating, in many of those songs they will find words that offer a clear, incisive and beautiful retelling of the biblical account of Christ’s incarnation.
Paul Roe, National Director of Cornerstone Community discussed the importance of storytelling and commented that, “biblical storytelling has shaped Western civilisation far more than we will admit”. In addition he says, “Our current problem is that we have largely forgotten it or are busily trying to deny it”. At least Christmas is one biblical story that is firmly lodged in the psyche of our culture.
Rather than reject our society’s celebration of Christmas, maybe I should be less quick to respond with cynicism and more ready to pray that, in the midst of the hype, the story of Christ’s birth will affect those ready to hear. As Paul wrote, “What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).
So this year I choose to rejoice with our community, trusting that some will learn that the goodwill they feel need not dissipate into joylessness and anxiety after the holiday. Christmas, after all, is a story of hope—the narrative of the coming of the One who ultimately
rescued humanity from condemnation and destruction.
In all that we do during the coming Christmas season, let us work to ensure that the biblical story of  Christmas remains so alive that many will receive its message for the first time.
Stephen L Baxter

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