I hope the rest of you are doing your bit to keep the High Street afloat this Christmas, because if it were being left to Simon and me, the High Street would be having a closing down sale. We are not ‘ready for Christmas’, we have not even started any preparations for Christmas. We don’t even know where we’ll be for most of it. This is what happens when your family run around like headless chickens all week and have every weekend claimed by other things. Right now (half past seven on a Sunday morning), is about the time we’re all free, but we’re all so exhausted we can’t get out of bed. And Simon’s on some rota at church so we can’t not go.
And then there’s the fact that we don’t actually feel very Christmassy. A lot has happened in the last few months and not a lot of it has been good. To be honest, I could do without the additional burden of spending two weeks with decorations in the house which in no way reflect my mood. I don’t want to be all hospitable and cheerful; I want to curl up into a ball and sleep.
My first post in weeks on here, on anywhere really and you’re not getting me at my best. But that’s not real life is it? Making out that my life is happy and wonderful all the time would be a big fat lie and I don’t like pedalling lies. I like to tell it as it is and right now, life is pretty rubbish.
So many of my friends and family are going through tough times, that it seems plain wrong to be ignoring that and yelling ‘cheer up, it’s Christmas’ at them and exploding a party popper over their heads. You WILL be happy this Christmas.
There is a two word reply to that and it’s not ‘of course!’
Life feels pretty tough at the moment and being made to jump through the hoops of Christmas is the last thing I and I suspect a great many other people want to do right now.
A wonderful friend of mine came into the church office last week. We’re going through a bit of a rubbish time there too. I’ll spare you the gory details, but Middle Narnia Baptist Church is currently a wounded animal. Not fatally, it’ll live; but right now it’s spending some time licking its wounds. She said that we have the ‘grace of Christmas to look forward to’ and from that phrase I have drawn such comfort.
It’s given me licence not to run around like a headless chicken this year cobbling together something that looks like Christmas, but isn’t. Just like last year, when I did Christmas without food; it will still be Christmas in two weeks time, just perhaps without all the sparkly bits.
Because Christmas, whatever the TV adverts tell me, isn’t about shelling out hundreds of pounds on gifts. It isn’t about eating until my stomach explodes and it isn’t about trees, tinsel or the Christmas Day episode of Doctor Who – although I am looking forward to that.
Because Christmas for me is about Jesus amazing birth and if I fix my eyes squarely on him and not what the world’s telling me Christmas is, what do I find, but exactly what I NEED:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-29 (The Message)
That’s exactly what I need this Christmas – rest. I want to put myself on charge so I can recover my strength for next year.
So whatever transpires this Christmas, I know it will still be Christmas, even if I don’t end up jumping through all the hoops the world expects. I might even end up doing precisely nothing – just because it’s Christmas.
However you choose to spend your Christmas, make it a good one, but don’t forget to rest. You have another 366 days to get through until the next one.