I was thinking about the subject of Christmas messages ahead of my next (this) blog posting, when I came across the following comment from one of my Facebook friends: “I have heard the leaders of the Tory Party, Lib Dems and Labour dispensing Christmas messages about fairness, helping your fellow man and Christian charity. I have never heard such hypocrisy from three people …” (click here for more on the content of these recent messages). The reason for my friend’s displeasure was he felt that the three party leaders had played and will play their part in adding to the misery that was and is being imposed on the poorest members in our society. I see his point without altogether sharing his views. But reading the messages and my friend’s comments did get me thinking about the subject of hypocrisy, given these three men were endorsing the Christmas message while being party to policies that have helped marginalise the very people most likely to carry forth that message, as I have discussed in previous posts. But it is Christmas and this is a time to declare a truce, make peace rather than declare war, resolve to live in harmony with those around us and work for the common good.
I have noticed in recent years the increasing tendency for world and national leaders to give a Christmas message, whether or not they are Christian, and more often than not it is based on the original Christmas message as recorded in the Gospels, such as the one to do with peace and goodwill to all men that was given by the angels, who announced to the shepherds the birth of their Saviour – Jesus. Often though one wonders if there are ulterior motives and whether those giving their particular Christmas message are doing so with their own special twist or to promote their own particular agenda. While there may be the credibility gap as pointed out by my friend, many of the messages I get to hear are of kindness, hope and cheer and surely that has to be a good thing given the needs we see all around us. I look forward to more messages over this Christmas time, such as from the Pope with his special insights on world affairs and in particular from our Queen who speaks wisely, fears God and loves her subjects, and of course I hope words will backed by action.
People will have different takes on Christmas and some of these will be painful, especially if living alone, experiencing pain of whatever sort, looking forward to a bleak future, away from their family or mourning the loss of a loved one, but we can all reflect and wonder and, above all, hope, and live out through our own actions some of the Christmas message. Going back many years, I recall dialogue along the lines: “did you have a good Christmas?” with the common response: “yes, but it was quiet“. I hope and expect that will be true for me this Christmas and hope at the very least it will be true for you too. For me, I expect it will be a time to recharge my batteries, attend Christmas worship (my church and midnight mass at the local CofE), be with those closest to me, go for an invigorating walk, read my Christmas cards and maybe a good book too, enjoy a very nice meal followed by a short nap, of course watch the Queen’s Christmas message on television followed perhaps by more TV delights and finally get to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life“.
But as for a message that is worth passing on and pondering on (from 3 of the 4 gospels – Mark doesn’t cover Christmas) …
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.“ Matthew 1:21
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:11-14
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.“ John 1:14
This and more encapsulates the true message of Christmas. All that now remains is to say “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” 🙂