‘It will all be over by Christmas.’ The commonly held view that the British public of 1914 thought that the Great War would be short and sharp. In reality not that many people held this view; the Government of the day called for soldiers to enlist for ‘three years or the duration.’ But in the popular imagination the phrase holds sway and is given
added poignancy by the Christmas Truce during the first winter of the War. When British, German and French soldiers stopped fighting and sang Christmas carols to each other before coming out of their trenches to exchange greetings, food and play football together. The film ‘Joyeux Noel’ tells the story of this truce from the French,
German and British (well, Scottish, actually) viewpoints, the script being in all three languages. If you have never come across this film it is worth a watch (I can lend my copy if needed). Christmas holds such a key place in our lives. We plan for it, we decorate our homes, sometimes months in advance, we almost bankrupt ourselves to make sure it is perfect. We organise our lives around it; I have lost count of the meetings I have been in over the past few months where the decision has been to ‘do that after Christmas.’ This one day, the 25th of December, is the focus of the year. And it is the focus of the year even if you do not know, or care, about Jesus Christ. Christmas is wonderful. It is wonderful for those of us who believe in Christ because we celebrate the Son of God coming to this earth to live as one of us. For us, that one event changed the world. As Saint Ambrose of Milan said, ‘He came down to earth so that we might inherit the stars.’ For nearly two thousand years, men, women and children have celebrated the birth of Jesus. Our celebrations today are built on generations of traditions, of customs. They are built on generations of
prayer and love. Underneath all the colourful electric decorations, the parties, the TV commercials, the stress, the bills, the arguments, we all know that Christmas Day is a day like no other, even if we are not sure why. This Christmas try to find space for you and the ones you love to tap into those deep wells of love and prayer, of custom and tradition that are all still there under the business of our modern Christmas. In the run up to the 25th of December and on the Day itself there are lots of different opportunities in church and in the community to find that
space to connect with the true spirit of Christmas; love. Wherever you are, and whoever you are with on Christmas Day may you and all whom you love be filled with love and peace.