Christmas will be held – with or without the commercial trappings

This time last year we were at the start of “Lockdown 2” – it lasted for the whole of November and the hope was that by shutting most things down then, December – and Christmas – might be saved.

We all know what happened: the Tier system was introduced, Norfolk was placed in Tier 4 and we effectively went back into lockdown straight after Boxing Day, which meant that for many of us Christmas was, if not “cancelled”, certainly curtailed.

Now in 2021 we were, as early as August, being warned that due to HGV driver shortages and delays in ports at China, Christmas was once again under threat, as well as the ongoing threat of Covid-19 rearing its head once again this winter.

Of course, many of us roll our eyes at the media and/or politicians when they dramatically pronounce that Christmas is under threat.

In truth, Christmas as a Christian festival, a season of celebration of God, in the person of Jesus, coming to Earth to live a human mortal life, has been under sustained threat for decades.

We all see every year the ever-increasing incursion of the commercial world into this Christian festival.

To an extent, we embrace and enjoy it. I love a Father Christmas/snow scene/robin, etc., as much as the next person.

All of those things are pretty and have a commercial value that never seems to come anywhere close to being exhausted.

It is all of these commercial trappings that have clung so limpet-like to Christmas that are vulnerable to supply-chain issues.

The 12-day festival of Christmas cannot be cancelled because the calendar and time cannot be stopped or cancelled.

25 December to 5 January is coming and Christians will celebrate/remember this great festival of Christmas, even if there are no single-use plastic toys imported en masse from Asia, if there are no snow scenes, no cards, no turkeys, no decorations/crackers/whatever.

For Christians, God in the person of Jesus came and lived and died and rose again because he loved us and still does – whatever might or might not get cancelled this year.

This great and beautiful festival is drowning in the commercial trappings and expectations that can never be fulfilled.

I would never want to see a completely commercial-free Christmas; I enjoy it too much.

But we do not seem to know when to stop with the preparations/celebrations, which means we often miss those in our communities for whom this season is a difficult and painful time.

We don’t want their pain to encroach on our festivities. We want a happy ending as portrayed in every Christmas movie and their pain rudely interrupts this.

We forget that the real Christmas story involves a hostile dictatorship/occupation, a puppet king who embarks upon a massacre of children. It is about a homeless family (Jesus’) with no welfare state.

Please, then, do enjoy a happy Christmas and do celebrate, but also remember those less fortunate who cannot celebrate for so many reasons.

Click HERE for a listing of Christmas and other church services in December.

Revd. Keith Rengert, Team Vicar, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches