The Nativity and waiting for Christ’s return make observant Christians emotional, but today Christmas is too often sadly secular, it has become about the decor, the food and consumerism.
During the build-up tothe millennium, folks were speculating that the 2020s would be the decade of “feelings”, and so far this is how it has played out. The Covid lockdowns aroused feelings from A to Z, anxiety, fear, fury, panic, isolation, control/power, pain, loss, grief, xenophobia; and the politics around Covid gave folks expression for these feelings. Now that political and personal feelings are out of the bottle, the genie cannot be put back in; added to Covid are issues around BLM, LGBT, mental health, monarchy, ideology, culture wars, the media, social conscience and faith, which brings us to Christmas.
The nativity and waiting for Christ’s return makes observant Christian’s emotional, but today Christmas is too often sadly secular, it has become about the decor, the food and consumerism. The extravagant and exhausting preparations surrounding the celebration seem to detract from reflection about humanity.
Fortunately what still remains strong in the celebration of Christmas is the bringing together/being together of friends and families andremembering those who are no longer there; this is a tradition shared across festivals and across faiths, with intolerances and differences hopefully set aside for the day in the effort to spread goodwill and make peace.
On Saturdays, the vicar in our local church circulates by email the Sunday sermon he plans to give. It is not the final draft as he always improves it and adds spontaneity in the pulpit, but it does give the parishioners a heads up and a variety ofliterary/artistic references into the meaning of that particular Sabath; it is also a great instrument of communication between the recipients, families and the sermoniser and sometimes even further afield.On the 25th, he talked about how mourning and regret become more ragged at Christmas, hownot to strive for Christmas perfection and to welcome the spoilsport/curmudgeon into every family gathering, to experience to the Holy Spirit and appreciate paradox. Observations that are relevant to not just the observant.
Television plays an important role in the British Christmas, many familieslounge in front of the TV in a coma of gluttony; certainly TV gets a bigger congregation than Church. Favourites compete for viewers, such as Christmas carols televised from Kings College Cambridge, dated but timeless comedy from Morecambe and Wise,quiz shows, gyrations from Strictly Come Dancing, classic movies re-screened and this year the first message from King Charles III replaced the Queen’s speech, topping the BBC ratings with 8.1million viewers. The King’s Speech at 3pm on the 25th was a reflection on humanity and hope, there were many layers to this speech and generally it was applauded for its sincerity and compassion.
But there was another program that encapsulated emotions, the short film of Charlie Mackesy’s book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. Mackesy’s theme is kindness and empathy, his famous drawings of a conversation between these threeanthropomorphic characters and a boy bring to life the best of humanity, and has earned a devout following from those who seek comfort and joy from an anonymous spiritual source. Which brings us back to faith, although a higher percentage of British society seems to be more agnostic than during the last millennium,folks still seek spirituality.