“I wish it could be Christmas every day” the song goes, one that we have no doubt heard many times already over the last few weeks.
I remember reading about a man who did celebrate Christmas every day. Known as Mr Christmas, Andy Park has reportedly, every morning since 1993, breakfasted on turkey sandwiches and mince pies, before opening the presents he has bought for himself. He comes home from work to eat a full roast turkey lunch, with a sherry in hand and watches recordings of the Queen’s Speech.
He must be mad, we perhaps think. Christmas every day? No thank you – once a year is more than enough, thanks.
But which bit of Christmas are we talking about – shopping, cooking, entertaining, overeating? I often hear people saying that we must remember the true meaning of Christmas, the Christmas story of baby Jesus born in a manger. And of course, I would encourage people to think of this at Christmas. But I do often worry that the story of Jesus is treated like our favourite Christmas decorations. We bring out the story of the baby in the manger at Christmas and we love it. But then we pack it away afterwards and leave it till next year. We might be very moved by it, even challenged to wonder what it is all about, but then by the New Year, life has returned to normal and we forget.
Jesus didn’t come to earth just so we could celebrate Christmas. The Christmas story, the baby, is part of a bigger and longer story, a story that draws all of us in. And the story is this. Immanuel, God with us. That first Christmas, God came to the world in the reality of a human life. God didn’t wait for life to be better, more holy, more sorted, less real, to be part of it. No, the Christmas story reminds us that when life was at its most messy and human, that’s where God was to be found. In an outhouse, born to a young unmarried woman, in a foreign place. Immanuel, God with us.
I do hope you will join us in the coming weeks for some of our ‘special’ Advent and Christmas services, to hear told again, in different ways, the story of that first Christmas. But I hope too that as we move into 2019 there may be space too to ponder the bigger story of God and his people, to allow yourself to be drawn into it, with questions and doubts, and to be reminded of the God that loves us and promises never to leave us.
So Christmas every day? Well no, if that relates to shopping or card-writing, or eating turkey. But I say yes to Christmas every day if it’s about a God who is found in the ordinariness and reality and messiness of human life. Yes to the idea of Immanuel, God with us.
May you catch a glimpse of God this Christmas time and into the New Year.
Rev Rachel Rosborough