This may not be so much the case if we were better able to dig in behind the sentimentality which so often marks even our faith celebrations, never mind the wider mindless consumerism so often masquerading as the Christmas spirit. When it comes to our faith our faith stories sometimes even can get in the way of the essential message of Christmas. Most of us can no more believe in our honest moments in stars moving relative to the earth at walking pace so they can be followed, virgin births and angelic choruses than we can believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden. Add to that the illogicality of the calling a census for which everyone is forced to return to their home town (imagine the case even now if that was to happen!). We can note that the earliest Christian tradition, Mark’s gospel and the writings of Paul, have nothing to say of the birth of Jesus while the two Christmas accounts in Matthew and Luke have basically nothing in common. Christmas was not even celebrated in the Christian church until the 4th century.
There is a reason for all this. The writers are using mythological symbols common in the ancient world to affirm a deep truth as myth always does, a truth beyond words, that God has come to us and is with us taking even human form in Christ. This is the deep good news that sometimes our sentimental attitude toward the unbelievable symbols and stories of Christmas can obscure. Christmas celebrates God’s being with us in a total manner of being and calls us to be likewise present to each other.
At the Chapel we will celebrate a free community Christmas lunch together to which all are invited. This we believe is a deep celebration of the true meaning of this season.