Dear Friends,

 

“Bah!! Humbug!!”

These words we associate with the character of Ebenezer Scrooge in the Charles Dickens novel, “A Christmas Carol.” That expression and calling someone a “bit of a Scrooge” are commonly used idioms to describe people who don’t enter into the Christmas celebrations with much enthusiasm.

Odd as it may seem, in days gone by some branches of the church used to try to obliterate Christmas from the Christian calendar. When Oliver Cromwell was ruler of England during the Commonwealth Period from 1649-1660 enjoying Christmas was actively discouraged and celebrating it could land you in prison or the incurring of a heavy fine. The first Puritan colonists who sailed from England to America 400 years ago this year took their anti-Christmas ideas with them and a law was passed in Massachusetts specifically outlawing Christmas festivities. Markets and shops were ordered to stay open on 25th December and anyone taking “time out” to celebrate Christmas would be liable to prosecution and these kill-joy laws were rigorously enforced. “Bah!! Humbug indeed,” you might say.

Closer to our own times some politicians and local councils have tried to extricate Christ from Christmas and turn it into some secular meaningless mid-winter festival. Their reasoning is that a Christian Christmas might offend non-Christians. What nonsense!! Are we Christians offended by Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah or by Muslims fasting during Ramadan then feasting at Eid or by Hindu families lighting candles at Diwali? Of course not, nor should we be. Every faith should be free to celebrate their sacred festivals – except Christians it seems in the eyes of some PC mad councillors and politicians. Would you believe in 2003 the Scottish Parliament even banned its officials from sending Christmas cards with a religious theme? What next!!

Back at the time of the very first Christmas, King Herod nearly succeeded in annihilating Christmas once and for all when he attempted to kill the Baby Jesus. Jesus survived Herod’s cruel wrath and he will survive the idiotic ideas of the politically correct today. God in Jesus came to Earth not to kill joy but to bring joy!! A joy and a peace that this world cannot give.

To my mind the coming of our loving Creator into the world as a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem is the most amazing and totally correct reason for a celebration there has ever been. It is not just OK to celebrate – it’s right!!

 Jesus came to live and love, teach and heal, die and rise again – for all for us. He offers us life in all its fullness in this world and beyond. He shows us how to live together in harmony, to do justly and to treat others fairly. What’s not to celebrate? So let’s celebrate, albeit perhaps a little quieter than usual this year!!

It’s good to eat, drink and party but the true celebration of Christmas is in giving thanks for our wonderful Saviour and committing ourselves to follow his way of love.

“Come and join the celebration – it’s a very special day. Happy Christmas!!”

Shalom,

Bill