Where can God be amidst all the hoo-haa of Christmas?
I heard a talk this week which set my Christmas bells ringing.
He was speaking about who or what is God.
Many of us believe that God is separate from us. That he, she or it is floating around somewhere “Up There”.
God In Us
We are sometimes told we just need to have faith that God is there. And that it is an issue of faith. But I believe it goes deeper than faith.
I, for one, have felt God. And I bet you have too, even if you don’t realise it.
Let’s look at an example of Santa. A little bit like the one in my book The Truth Has Set Me Free.
We spend years telling our young children that a chubby older man with a white beard is coming to bring us presents on Christmas Eve. Some people worry that there will be a bad effect on children when they find out it’s all lies. BUT is it?
Awe and Delight
When you think about it, you may realise that children and their parents get so much joy out of the game. Even most people who don’t have kids are moved by the awe and delight on a child’s face when they believe that Santa is on his way.
In my book I liken this to the way that I was taught to believe in God. That we had better behave because Santa’s on his way. Many parents use this as bribery for weeks before Christmas. So strong is the child’s belief that most times it works.
There is now even a pixie with an app that is chalking up the child’s behaviour.
And that’s how many see God, the one who judges and rewards or punishes us.
But if you look at it another way and think about the hope and joy and how we perceive the Spirit of Christmas, the compassion for others and the love, then isn’t that the true energy that runs through us? Could that be God?
Ok yes, for many people it can be a difficult time. In these days of consumerism and the constant bombardment from adverts, shops, and media, our expectations are far too high. And I know from experience that this is why loneliness, austerity and pain feel so much worse than at other times of the year. If we are in that position we imagine that everyone else is having the Christmas that consumerism leads us to expect.
Many people moan, and I hear some say that they will be glad when it’s all over.
For many years now, I have seen the Biblical story as a metaphor.
We celebrate Yuletide at the time of year when the northern hemisphere is at its darkest. And so the festival celebrates the return of the light after the shortest day on the 21st December.
Christians adopted this festival as a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
I’m not here to argue whether that story is true or not. But I can feel the Spirit of Christmas whenever I see the delightful story of the Nativity. The baby represents all that is good, loving, compassionate and kind in human beings. It reminds us that there is light in the darkness.
Again, world news and the media lead us to believe that this world is becoming darker and more evil every day and we are led to believe that human beings are more wicked than they ever have been. But history tells a different story. Earlier centuries were called the Dark Ages, and the Middle Ages were not much better.
We are living in the days of enlightenment.
If you doubt that, do some research on the internet to find out the millions of people who are putting their compassion into every day of their life. The thousands that are working for charity. The volunteers rescuing and caring for humans and animals and this planet.
Just three days ago, I saw a report about a group of young men who have been rescuing girls from human trafficking. But it was tucked away on social media, and the main news was full of volcanoes, fires, politics and lies.
And so: where is God in the hoo-haa of Christmas?
God is the light, love, compassion, laughter, excitement, contemplation, prayers, children’s faces on Christmas morning, and in the joy of their nativity plays. The Elderly person’s face lighting up when someone smiles at them and gives them something they like. There is an advert on TV this year of an elderly, lonely man who is suddenly confronted with a child giving him a present as he walks along the street. People in the many cafes and churches who are giving up their time to be with the lonely. The doctors, nurses and carers who work through it all. The utility Industries which keep us warm and watered.
Need I say more?
And so: may you be blessed this Christmas 2019. And may you know that God is not so far away after all.
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