Christmas has always been a time of mixed experiences and mixed emotions for me. I was brought up Catholic and Midnight Mass was one of the magical moments of Christmas, stepping out into the cold dark night after the service, feeling joyful and uplifted by the carols and the ritual of it all. Christmas time with a large family could be wonderful, it could also be difficult, as many people experience at this time of year. At some point over the festive season, my mother would invariably utter the immortal words “The whole Christmas has been ruined. “ As an adult, I married into a totally unchurched family and was also actively involved in paid church ministry. It often felt as though I had two completely independent, yet valuable and meaningful Christmases – my religious one and my secular one.
So, what is Christmas really about? What is the message that we can offer to people for whom there may never have been a Christ in Christmas? When I was putting up my Christmas lights, I played around with different shapes. Finally, I created a heart shape. These are the lights that shine out into my street. This is the message that I want to send out into the world. Christmas is about love. For Christians, it is about Love come down to live with us. When we act out of love, towards friend or stranger, that’s when we are being Christ’s hands and feet in the world. People may not be interested in the story of a baby in a stable, but they know real love when they experience it. This seems like a good first step for showing anyone what the true meaning of Christmas is. May your Christmas be filled with love this year.