Christmas is coming and the goose is getting…. stressed? Well, it seems that everyone else is these days so why not the goose – or the turkey – or the duck? Then again you might suggest that the goose has a reason to get stressed as Christmas approaches but what possible reason can there be for the rest of us?
Of course, we’ve heard it all before. Christmas has become too commercialised. The pressure is on to find the right gifts, get all the food, then go to the parties and Christmas Dinners. It’s surprising how many of those we end up having. I’ve seen adverts for booking Christmas meals in restaurants at the end of August! Christmas decorations start appearing in shops in October. Towns switch on their Christmas lights earlier – and then there is shock and horror when a council announces that there will be no lights because they don’t have the budget for it.
What is it really all about? Is it about trading figures? As we approach the holiday itself the news will feature reports about which companies have made a profit in the lead up to Christmas and which have made a loss and whether the sales figures are up on the same period last year or whether they are down. Is it about revelry? The police always make a special effort at this time of year to crack down on drink driving.
Some will say that Christmas has simply returned to the pagan festival that it once was before Christians placed their own festival in the dark days of winter. In truth this year’s celebrations will have little in common even with the older traditions.
It puts me more in mind of a story which belongs to a different time of year when Jesus overturned the stalls in the temple courtyard. It’s all about profit for a few at the expense of many – except that instead of being about Jerusalem and the surrounding area we are now talking in global terms. Back in AD 30 Jesus challenged the authorities. Did they come creeping back to their old ways afterwards? Probably, but then the temple only lasted another forty years before it was destroyed.
We are being sucked in to something which we know is getting out of hand. The baby has been kidnapped…. And no-one’s bothered about asking for a ransom because there’s too much profit to be made elsewhere. So here’s the challenge. God wants us to celebrate. He’s not a killjoy. So how can we make Christmas more simple, less extravagant and more about sharing and caring? Isn’t it time we asked the Holy Spirit to come and overturn the tables of the moneychangers again and reclaim the festival for Christ?